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Can Alzheimer’s Be Diagnosed With A Blood Test

Can Smelling Peanut Butter Detect Alzheimers

Breakthrough Alzheimers Blood Test May Make Diagnosis Simple, Affordable And Widely Available

The peanut butter test is not how Alzheimers is diagnosed. Most Alzheimers patients do not lose their sense of smell but some do. The loss of sense of smell is called anosmia.

The problem with the peanut butter test is that Parkinsons disease patients can lose their sense of smell too. So, failing the peanut butter test doesnt mean you have Alzheimers disease. COVID or another viral infection could be hurting your sense of smell and could cause you to fail the peanut butter test. And thats temporary.

Its an interesting idea that has roots in some of the symptoms of the disease but its not accurate enough to replace standardized testing.

Diagnosing Alzheimer’s: Which Blood Test Is Best

Batya Swift Yasgur, MA, LSW

There are important differences in the diagnostic accuracy of blood tests used to screen for Alzheimer’s disease . Some mass spectrometry based plasma tests can detect brain amyloid pathology.

Investigators compared the performance of eight plasma A42/40 assays in detecting abnormal brain A for patients with early AD. The patients were drawn from two cohorts.

In both cohorts, two MS-based assays IP-MS-WashU and IP-MS-Shim were superior to the other assays in determining cerebrospinal fluid A42/40 and A-positron-emission tomography status.

“Our study shows that the accuracy of different A42/40 assays vary substantially when it comes to their ability to detect brain amyloid in patients with early Alzheimer’s disease that certain mass spectrometrybased assays are clearly better than other types of assays,” lead investigator Shorena Janelidze, PhD, a researcher at the Clinical Memory Research Unit, Lund University, Lund, Sweden, told Medscape Medical News.

“Our results from two specialized cohorts indicate which assays have the greatest potential for use in clinical practice and trials,” she said.

The study was September 29 in JAMA Neurology.

What Did The Scientists Do

The UCL team led by Prof Jonathan Schott worked with a unique group of over 400 volunteers, recruited from the Medical Research Council National Survey of Health and Development 1946 British Birth Cohort. They were all born in the same week in 1946 and did not have dementia. They had amyloid PET scans and blood tests as part of the Alzheimers Research UK-funded Insight 46 study, Blood tests were done at UCL and through collaboration with researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

The researchers compared three different ways of measuring proteins of interest in the blood and compared the results of the blood tests to those from the PET scans.

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Future Of Alzheimers Blood Tests

When blood tests become mainstream, they will significantly impact the way doctors diagnose and even treat the condition.

Beyond the Preclivity AD and Simoa described above, there are multiple other types of blood tests in development some are looking at protective fats in the blood. Research shows that an increase in fatty amide levels indicates more beta amyloid in the brain. Beta amyloid plaques have been found in the brains of people with Alzheimers.

Other blood tests will measure proteins such as tau proteins and the neurofilament light chain protein. Researchers have found that neuron death, characteristic in people with Alzheimers, may be detected by the corresponding increase of these proteins in the blood.

It is also possible that the probable link between insulin resistance, diabetes and Alzheimers means blood tests could show the disease in someone well before symptoms occur. Another protein called IRS-1 is commonly associated with diabetes but has also been linked to Alzheimers. Studies have shown that someone with Alzheimers has more IRS-1 than even someone with diabetes.

Blood Tests To Check For Other Conditions

Alzheimer

Your GP will arrange for blood tests to help exclude other causes of symptoms that can be confused with dementia.

In most cases, these blood tests will check:

  • liver function
  • haemoglobin A1c
  • vitamin B12 and folate levels

If your doctor thinks you may have an infection, they may also ask you to do a urine test or other investigations.

Read more about blood tests.

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Dementia & Alzheimer’s Disease

After weeks of research and study reviews, we bring you this in-depth overview of blood tests for dementia.

Researchers have revealed that conducting a blood test is fast BECOMING A REALITY in dementia diagnosis.

This comes as great news because for the longest time, conducting an autopsy was the only way to get a definitive diagnosis for Alzheimers.

Thanks to research and innovation, medics are able to use behavioral tests as well as spinal fluid and brain imaging tests to spot the disease in people before they even start showcasing the initial symptoms of the progressive illness.

These tests, however, are not considered ideal. They are not only invasive but are COSTLY and LIMITED to research settings.

They are not part of the care routine for millions of people who are living with this neurodegenerative disorder.

Some tests are not too helpful because they can fail to detect the illness during its early stages.

Could This Potential Blood Test Help With Accessibility To Testing And Treatment

Kanaan: Yes, the emerging blood tests are highly accessible in a clinical research setting, like the Michigan Alzheimers Disease Research Center, today. Whether blood tests such as these become a component of standard clinical practice for dementia management will require additional development and testing, but this is certainly one of the main directions in which we and others are moving.

The continuing enrichment of the biomarker toolkit for clinicians and scientists will ultimately provide several useful advantages to clinical care for dementia. Among these advantages: it will facilitate better clinical trials, monitoring of therapeutic efficacy and may even identify important biological processes involved in brain diseases.

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How The Blood Test For Dementia Works

Also known as the Precitivity AD, the C2N test or blood test for dementia uses mass spectrometry. An analytic technique used to detect specific beta-amyloid protein fragment that is one of the most common hallmarks of Alzheimers.

The beta-amyloid proteins normally accumulate and form plaques which can be seen on the brain 2 decades after an individual starts to notice they have memory issues.

The levels of beta-amyloid start to decline in the surrounding fluids as the plaques continue to build up in the brain. These changes can be measured in spinal fluid samples.

It is also possible to measure them in the blood where beta-amyloid concentrations are usually lower.

PrecivityAD is one of the first blood tests for Alzheimers that could enable early detection of the neurodegenerative illness.

HOPEFULLY, decades before the first symptoms appear.

Can A Blood Test Help To Diagnose Alzheimers

Blood test could help diagnose Alzheimer’s

Soon, Alzheimers diagnosis may be worlds easier. We speak with experts on the new wave of diagnostic blood tests, including experts from C2N Diagnostics, the company producing the first-ever Alzheimers blood test in use by doctors.

Alzheimers is incredibly prevalent, but notoriously difficult to diagnose. Some of the most important information can only be gleaned from expensive and invasive processes, like a brain scan or a spinal tap. But soon, diagnosis may be as easy as getting a simple blood test.

Thanks to cutting-edge research, doctors may soon be able to, just by looking at our blood, determine all kinds of things about our brain health, from our Alzheimers risk score to the presence of key blood biomarkers.

The possibility of early detection and being able to intervene with a treatment before significant damage to the brain from Alzheimers disease would be game changing for individuals, families and our healthcare system, Alzheimers Association Chief Science Officer Maria Carrillo said at last years annual conference.

With the PrecivityAD test, patients are assigned a score ranging from zero to 100 and then put into a risk category based on their score range: A value between zero and 36 is low, a value between 37 and 57 is intermediate, and 58 and above is considered a higher risk for amyloid in the brain.

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The New Swedish Blood Test Is Described As A Breakthrough In Alzheimer’s Research

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. But when a patient begins to show symptoms, the breakdown processes in the brain have been ongoing for years. For some, decades may have passed since the onslaught of the disease.

That means when a patient is given a diagnosis, the brain has already undergone irreparable damage.

Researchers have for years tried to develop a simple method for figuring out who is at risk. If they can then receive treatment that works, this could slow further development of the disease.

Now, researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg have developed simple blood tests and published three studies that document how accurate they are, according to forskning.se .

Simple Blood Test May Be Able To Diagnose Alzheimers Disease

A simple blood test may soon be able to diagnose patients with two common forms of dementia Alzheimers disease and frontotemporal dementia and tell the two apart.

Researchers at UC San Francisco analyzed the blood test in more than 300 patients and say they hope to see such a test available in doctors offices within five years.

This test could eventually be deployed in a primary care setting for people with memory concerns to identify who should be referred to specialized centers to participate in clinical trials or to be treated with new Alzheimers therapies, once they are approved, said Adam Boxer, MD, PhD, neurologist at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center and senior author of the study published in Nature Medicine. Boxer also is affiliated with the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences.

No blood test currently exists for either condition. Alzheimers diagnoses can only be confirmed by a PET scan of the brain, which can be costly, or an invasive lumbar puncture to test cerebrospinal fluid.

If approved, the new blood test could ease screening and help increase the number of patients eligible for clinical trials, which are essential to the search for drugs to stop or slow dementia. Patients who know whether they have Alzheimers or FTD are also better able to manage their symptoms, which may differ between the two conditions.

Adam Boxer, MD, PhD

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Australian Research Could Help Other Neurological Conditions Too

This new research may not just help people with dementia. It could also assist in diagnosing other rare neurological conditions where brain cell death occurs.

Melbourne man Gary Wishart was first diagnosed with anxiety in 2014.

But his wife, Kath Lok, who is a GP, suspected there was more going on.

“He started seeing a psychiatrist and a psychologist for over 10 sessions, started on antidepressants, which made no difference. He just fell asleep,” she said.

It took years and dozens of tests for Mr Wishart to get answers. During that time, he was treated by at least 30 different doctors and specialists.

Dr Lok concedes it would be incredibly difficult to deal with getting a diagnosis for her husband if she did not have a medical background.

“If I didn’t push on and seek more advice, he’d probably have died,” she said.

Specialists now believe Mr Wishart has cerebral vasculitis, an incredibly rare neurological condition. Following an intense treatment period at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, he has started to recover.

“I feel quite amazing. I know that I’m not right, I’m not perfect. I’m not 100 per cent back to where I was,” Mr Wishart said.

His improvement means he can now help care for his two teenage sons again.

“I think for two or three years there, I probably didn’t have a husband. I was a carer. And when he started getting good treatment again, it took another two or three years for him to come back,” Dr Lok said.

Watch this story tonight on 7.30 on ABC TV and iview.

Reasons The Blood Test For Dementia Is Important

Dementia could be diagnosed early via blood test

When compared to the difficult and invasive procedures, the blood test for dementia, opens up more exciting possibilities.

Not only for clinical use but therapeutic development explains Adam Boxer a neurologist who works at the University of California, San Francisco.

Blood tests are also very convenient. They can be collected in a persons home or REMOTE LOCATIONS.

While there is still no medication for Alzheimers and other types of dementia, early tests that are readily available can enhance treatment.

They can allow affected persons to take appropriate measures to stay healthy, participate in clinical trials, and plan for their future.

Blood tests are also important because they can help identify the people who are at risk of developing the disease explains Mielke.

The rest can also be used to screen potential participants who can benefit from experimental drugs.

Elisabeth Thijssen a researcher studying blood biomarkers for Alzheimers at Amsterdam University Medical Centers in the Netherlands said that affordable blood tests can also lower the cost of clinical trials which will give an opportunity for potential treatments to be tested.

This can increase the chance of finally landing a cure.

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Coping With A Diagnosis

But a diagnosis of Alzheimers, or of being at risk of developing Alzheimers, can be a difficult one.

These patients will have an increased risk of developing dementia, but it is not a one hundred percent risk, and it can be affected, Fladby said.

Several studies have measured exactly how patients handle these kinds of difficult messages.

The results are uplifting most patients dont become depressed, but make changes that have to do with lifestyle. They become more social, spending time with family, Fladby said.

But healthcare professionals must exercise judgement and assess who can cope with this kind of diagnosis before they administer the test. They may want to exclude patients who already suffer from depression, Fladby said.

Translated by: Nancy Bazilchuk

References:

A. Moscoso et al.: Time course of phosphorylated-tau181 in blood across the Alzheimers disease. Summary Brain, 30 November 2020.

Who Administers All These Neuropsychological Tests

To get an Alzheimers diagnosis typically you see a specialist, like a neurologist. A neurologist may not administer all of these tests directly but he or she will interpret the cognitive test results with help from specialized colleagues.

Neurologists have special team members who administer the memory and thinking or cognitive tests. They have another team who are specialists at doing the PET imaging and interpretation of the brain scan results. And they rely on clinical laboratories to do the blood and cerebral spinal fluid testing.

Typically, the neurologist leads and coordinates these specialized teams and will interpret your test results together with your medical history to reach a diagnosis.

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How Is Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosed

Doctors use several methods and tools to help determine if a person with thinking or memory problems has Alzheimers disease. To diagnose Alzheimers, doctors may:

  • Ask the person experiencing symptoms, as well as a family member or friend, questions about overall health, use of prescription and over-the-counter medicines, diet, past medical problems, ability to carry out daily activities, and changes in behavior and personality.
  • Administer a psychiatric evaluation to determine if depression or another mental health condition is causing or contributing to a person’s symptoms.
  • Conduct tests of memory, problem solving, attention, counting, and language.
  • Order blood, urine, and other standard medical tests that can help identify other possible causes of the problem.
  • Perform brain scans, such as computed tomography , magnetic resonance imaging , or positron emission tomography , to support an Alzheimers diagnosis or rule out other possible causes for symptoms.

Doctors may want to repeat these tests to help best determine how the persons memory and other cognitive functions are changing over time. The tests can also help diagnose other causes of memory problems, such as stroke, tumor, Parkinsons disease, sleep disturbances, side effects of medication, an infection, or another type of dementia. Some of these conditions may be treatable and possibly reversible.

People with memory problems should return to the doctor every six to 12 months.

Enables Testing Of Drugs

Blood test could help doctors detect Alzheimer’s years before symptoms arise

But the test doesnt mean that society will immediately have a treatment for everyone, Fladby said. Instead, the test is an important step on the road to further research.

Being able to make early diagnoses and identify patients who have incipient problems is a necessary step in finding an effective treatment, Fladby said.

Thus, the next step could be to test treatment on at-risk patients, and compare the effect against control groups which can take many years.

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What Did They Find

In this group of cognitively healthy individuals around the age of 70, approximately 1 in 5 had evidence of significant build-up of brain amyloid in a similar pattern to patients with Alzheimers dementia.

The best performing blood test was able to identify those individuals with high levels of amyloid with about 85% accuracy. Using blood tests to screen for amyloid would reduce the requirement for PET scans by roughly half.

Blood Test Offers Hope For Early Diagnosis Of Alzheimers

A novel blood test offers hope for diagnosing Alzheimers at its earliest stages, up to 10 years before symptoms like memory loss and confusion take hold. The test needs additional study but, if proven effective, could be useful for identifying those with Alzheimers at a stage when drugs and other therapies are potentially most effective.

In a preliminary study, the test effectively distinguished those with Alzheimers from their healthy peers and was more accurate than other blood tests currently under investigation. The new test was studied in 174 seniors, 70 of whom had Alzheimers disease. More extensive testing in larger numbers of people will be needed to confirm the results.

The test measures insulin resistance, or abnormalities in the hormone insulin, in the brain. Insulin is critical for the bodys ability to process glucose, or blood sugar, which supplies energy to muscles and cells throughout the body, including in the brain. Insulin resistance and impaired glucose metabolism are a hallmark of diabetes, a disease that is also known to raise the risk for dementia.

This study shows that insulin resistance is a major central nervous system metabolic abnormality in Alzheimers disease, said Dr. Ed Goetzl, the senior author of the study. As insulin resistance is a known condition in type 2 diabetes mellitus and is treatable with several classes of existing drugs, these treatments may be useful as part of a multi-agent program for Alzheimers disease.

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