Roughly 30 million people worldwide, including nearly six million people in the United States, have Alzheimer's, and their ranks are expected to more than double by 2050 as the population ages.

Alzheimer's blood test is seen within reach. Breakthrough could speed research for diagnostics and treatments of the disease.

A newly developed blood test for Alzheimer's has diagnosed the disease as accurately as methods that are far more expensive or invasive, scientists have reported, a significant step toward a longtime goal for patients, doctors and dementia researchers.

The test has the potential to make diagnosis simpler, more affordable and widely available.

The test determined whether people with dementia had Alzheimer's instead of another condition.

And it identified signs of the degenerative disease 20 years before memory and thinking problems were expected in people with a genetic mutation that causes Alzheimer's, according to research published in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association, and presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference.

Such a test could be available for clinical use in as little as two to three years, the researchers and other experts estimated, providing a readily accessible way to diagnose whether people with cognitive issues were experiencing Alzheimer's, rather than another type of dementia that might require different treatment or have different prognosis.

A blood test like this might also eventually be used to predict whether someone with no symptoms would develop Alzheimer's.

''This blood test very, very accurately predicts who's got Alzheimer's disease in their brain, including people who seem to be normal,'' said Dr. Michael Weiner, an Alzheimer's disease researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved in the study.

''It's not a cure. It's not a treatment., but you can't treat the disease without being able to diagnose it.  And accurate, low-cost diagnosis is really exciting, so it's a breakthrough.''

Blood tests for Alzheimer's, which are being developed by several research teams, would provide some hope in a field that has experienced failure after failure in its search for ways to treat and prevent a devastating disease that robs people of their memories and ability to function independently.

Experts said blood tests would accelerate the search for new therapies by making it faster and cheaper to screen participants for clinical trials, a process that now often takes years and costs millions of dollars, because -

Because it relies on expensive methods like PET scans of the brain and spinal tabs for cerebrospinal fluid.

The honor and serving of the latest global operational research on Alzheimer, continues. The World Students Society thanks author, Pam Belluck.


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