In what is being described as the ‘holy grail of Alzheimer’s research’, scientists have developed a blood test that can detect the build-up of toxic proteins linked to dementia.
Researchers from the National Centre for Geriatrics and Gerontology in Japan developed the test, which detects amyloid-beta levels in the blood, indicative of levels in the brain.
The team hopes the test could one day be used to treat patients with dementia before symptoms occur.
In the study, the researchers tested the method on 373 people, including healthy people, those with memory loss and people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Results showed that the test was accurate 90 per cent of the time.
While there are currently brain scans available that can detect amloid-beta levels, these are expensive and impractical.
The researchers hope their blood test could offer a cheaper and easier alternative in the near future - although they highlight that further trials are needed.
Dr Doug Brown, Chief Policy and Research Officer at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “A blood test is much quicker and cheaper than a brain scan or spinal tap, so this could be a useful tool for researchers to identify people at risk of Alzheimer’s for further investigation.”
Professor Paul Morgan, an immunology expert from Cardiff University , described the findings as the ‘holy grail’ of Alzheimer’s research.
He said: “The availability of such markers would facilitate early diagnosis, allow early intervention and perhaps provide a means of demonstrating response to intervention.”