Alzheimer's blood test optimized to detect disease before symptoms

A newly published study details the optimization of a previously developed blood test for detecting Alzheimer's disease. Though the original test could successfully detect the disease's presence before symptoms started, the accuracy wasn't quite high enough and there were too many false positives. By adding a second test into the mix, researchers have been able to improve both of those issues.

Ruhr-Universit├Ąt Bochum (RUB) Department of Biophysics professor Klaus Gerwert led a team of researchers who created a simple blood test capable of diagnosing Alzheimer's disease years before the first symptoms appeared. However, according to a new release, this test resulted in false positive results 9-percent of the time; it successfully diagnosed 71-percent of participants.

The team then set to work optimizing the test, forming a two-tier method that first utilizes the original blood test, then involved a second test related to tau protein, a biomarker associated with Alzheimer's disease. The second process was initiated if the patient was determined via the blood test to be at high risk of developing the disease.

Using this two-tier approach, according to the announcement, the team was able to successfully identify 87 out of 100 Alzheimer's patients in the study. At the same time, the number of false positive results dropped to only 3 out of 100 people.

Diagnosing Alzheimer's before symptoms appear will enable doctors to begin treatment at a much earlier stage than is currently possible. The study joins a vast and growing body of research focused on Alzheimer's disease, which threatens to greatly strain the health care industry as an increasing number of people live to older ages and develop the disease.