There has been much research over the past few years assessing alternative ways of diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease, including the potential of eye scans, smell-tests and even blood tests.
New research, published in the journal PNAS, has reported on a new sensor-based technology that can analyse the properties of blood plasma.
The researchers, based at Lancaster University in the UK, analysed blood samples from 549 individuals; 347 of whom were known to have various neurodegenerative diseases and 202 were considered age-matched healthy individuals.
The sensor-based technology works by passing light through a diamond core, which can then identify specific chemical bonds within the blood.
The analysis of these blood samples was then compared with the supporting clinical and genetic information, already known about the participants. The researchers found that their new ‘blood analysis’ technique was able to identify Alzheimer’s disease with 70% sensitivity and specificity.
Is this a good result? It seems so, with the authors of the paper reporting that the achieved sensitivities and specificities are equal to, or even higher than, the ones obtained by clinical/molecular method.
“A particularly exciting aspect of the study was the ability to distinguish accurately between Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy body dementia, which are conditions that both result in dementia and can be difficult to separate from each other based on clinical information and symptoms,” said Professor David Allsop from the Lancaster University.
“By reduction of misdiagnosed cases and administration of appropriate treatment, many people could benefit from this type of blood test in the future,” he added.
A simple blood test could offer a complementary approach to assist in identifying and monitoring early signs of neurodegeneration and the onset of dementia.
This new research adds to a growing body of evidence which showcases that blood can tell you a lot about your brain health and it is hoped that one day this type of diagnostic test for dementia will become a reality.
You can read more about this study here