A blood test can detect whether plaques of beta-amyloid are building up in a person’s brain – a sign that they may develop Alzheimer’s disease.
People with Alzheimer’s disease tend to have sticky clumps of beta-amyloid in their brains, although the part these plaques play in the condition is unclear. Until now, the only way to monitor plaque build-up in a person’s brain has been through expensive PET-scans, or by performing an invasive spinal tap procedure.
Now a team has developed a simple blood test that may make it possible for family doctors to screen for Alzheimer’s risk during health check-ups.
“This kind of test could be used to screen many thousands of patients to identify those at risk for Alzheimer’s disease, and to start treatments before memory loss and brain damage,” says Randall Bateman, of Washington University in St Louis, who unveiled the test at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in London today.