Nav: Home

New blood test for detecting Alzheimer's disease

June 25, 2019

Researchers from Lund University, together with the Roche pharmaceutical company, have used a method to develop a new blood marker capable of detecting whether or not a person has Alzheimer's disease. If the method is approved for clinical use, the researchers hope eventually to see it used as a diagnostic tool in primary healthcare. This autumn, they will start a trial in primary healthcare to test the technique.

Currently, a major support in the diagnostics of Alzheimer's disease is the identification of abnormal accumulation of the substance beta-amyloid, which can be detected either in a spinal fluid sample or through brain imaging using a PET scanner.

"These are expensive methods that are only available in specialist healthcare. In research, we have therefore long been searching for simpler diagnostic tools", says Sebastian Palmqvist, associate professor at the unit for clinical memory research at Lund University, physician at Skåne University Hospital and lead author of the study.

In this study, which is a collaboration between several medical centres, the researchers investigated whether a simple blood test could identify people in whom beta-amyloid has started to accumulate in the brain, i.e. people with underlying Alzheimer's disease. Using a simple and precise method that the researchers think is suitable for clinical diagnostics and screening in primary healthcare, the researchers were able to identify beta-amyloid in the blood with a high degree of accuracy.

"Previous studies on methods using blood tests did not show particularly good results; it was only possible to see small differences between Alzheimer's patients and healthy elderly people. Only a year or so ago, researchers found methods using blood sample analysis that showed greater accuracy in detecting the presence of Alzheimer's disease. The difficulty so far is that they currently require advanced technology and are not available for use in today's clinical procedures", says Sebastian Palmqvist.

The results are published in JAMA Neurology and based on studies of blood analyses collected from 842 people in Sweden (The Swedish BioFINDER study) and 237 people in Germany. The participants in the study are Alzheimer's patients with dementia, healthy elderly people and people with mild cognitive impairment.

The method studied by the researchers was developed by Roche and is a fully automated technique which measures beta-amyloid in the blood, with high accuracy in identifying the protein accumulation.

"We have collaborated with Roche for a long time and it is only now that we are starting to approach a level of accuracy that is usable in routine clinical care around the world", says Oskar Hansson, professor of neurology and head of the unit for clinical memory research at Lund University.

The researchers believe that this new blood sample analysis could be an important complement for screening individuals for inclusion in clinical drug trials against Alzheimer's disease or to improve the diagnostics in primary care which will allow more people to get the currently available symptomatic treatment against Alzheimer's disease.

"The next step to confirm this simple method to reveal beta-amyloid through blood sample analysis is to test it in a larger population where the presence of underlying Alzheimer's is lower. We also need to test the technique in clinical settings, which we will do fairly soon in a major primary care study in Sweden. We hope that this will validate our results", concludes Sebastian Palmqvist.
-end-


Lund University

Related Primary Care Articles:

A blueprint for building transgender health programs in primary care
Leading educators and clinical experts on transgender health care from Harvard, Fenway Health, and The Fenway Institute address access issues for transgender patients seeking care by providing a plan to integrate gender-affirming hormone therapy, surgical referrals, or wrap-around services into primary care.
Contacts with primary care physicians did not increase after the Affordable Care Act
At the same time the Affordable Care Act increased the number of insured Americans, analysis of health care industry data shows a continued decline in contact with primary care physician services.
Collaboration may improve access to HIV testing, primary care
Getting better access to testing and proper primary care for individuals vulnerable to HIV could be as simple as a telephone call or email among health providers.
Case management in primary care associated with positive outcomes
In a systematic review, researchers identified three characteristics of case management programs that consistently yielded positive results: case selection for frequent users with complex problems, high-intensity case management interventions and a multidisciplinary care plan.
A new approach to primary care: Advanced team care with in-room support
In this special report, the authors argue that the current primary care team paradigm is underpowered, in that most of the administrative responsibility still falls mainly on the physician.
How primary care physicians can make Astana work
The Astana Declaration, adopted by the World Health Organization in October 2018, acknowledges the importance of primary health care to achieve better health outcomes globally.
A structured approach to detecting and treating depression in primary care
A questionnaire-based management algorithm for major depressive disorder in primary care is feasible to implement, though attrition from treatment is high.
New tool measures primary care as a whole
There are a number of measures to assess aspects of primary care, but a new measure breaks new ground by combining experiences of patients, clinicians, and payers and allowing the most informed reporter -- the patient -- to assess vital primary care functions that are often missed.
Learning more about opioid prescribing in primary care
Chronic opioid prescribing in primary care varies significantly by patient and clinician characteristics, according to a new study.
Large federal program aimed at providing better health care underfunds primary care
Despite a mandate to help patients make better-informed health care decisions, a ten-year research program established under the Affordable Care Act has funded a relatively small number of studies that examine primary care, the setting where the majority of patients in the US receive treatment.
More Primary Care News and Primary Care Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Mindset
In the past few months, human beings have come together to fight a global threat. This hour, TED speakers explore how our response can be the catalyst to fight another global crisis: climate change. Guests include political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, diplomat Christiana Figueres, climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, and writer, illustrator, and artist Oliver Jeffers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Speedy Beet
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit. Big thanks to our Brooklyn Philharmonic musicians: Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.