Scientists are about to reach a long-awaited goal – a blood test to identify possible signs of Alzheimer's and other brain diseases Such conditions, even if they have genes that increase this risk.
At the International Conference of the Alzheimer's Association on July 15, six research groups presented new results on several experimental tests. This included one that seems to  exactly to identify Alzheimer's risk.
Doctors hope that in regular examinations, they can use something that can measure most signs of brain-destroying disease. You could better decide which patients need additional testing. Current instruments such as brain scans (1
"We need something faster … It does not have to be perfect," said Maria Carrillo, scientific director of the Alzheimer's Society.
Richard Hodes is director of the National Institute for Aging Research. He called the new results "very promising". He said that blood screening for selection and observation of individuals will soon be used for studies supported by the federal government.
"This has happened … much faster than any of us would have expected," he told The Associated Press.
It can not be too early for patients like 66-year-old Tom Doyle. The former university professor from Chicago first had memory problems four years ago. Since then he has performed two spinal fluid tests.
He was first told that he did not have Alzheimer's disease. Later he was told that he had it. Over time, doctors found that Doyle suffered from various dementia-related illnesses – Lewy body and Parkinson's.
"You probably could have diagnosed me years ago if you had a blood test," Doyle said. He represents patients in the leadership team of the Alzheimer's Association.
About 50 million people worldwide suffer from dementia. Alzheimer's is the most common type. There is no cure. Current medicines only temporarily relieve their harmful effects. Many hoped treatments have failed. Doctors believe that previous studies included people who were too late in the disease when the brain damage was already severe. The experts also say that the research may have involved too many people with problems other than Alzheimer's.
A blood test – and no subjective assessment of thinking ability – could involve the right people in the right studies earlier.
One of the experimental blood tests measures unusual types of protein that forms plaque in the brain. Plaque is an important sign of Alzheimer's. Last year, Japanese researchers published a study about it. At the conference, they released results of additional tests on 201 people with Alzheimer's or other dementias.
Akinori Nakamura is at the National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology in Obu, Japan. He said that the test properly identified 92 percent of people with and 85 percent without Alzheimer's.
Another experimental test is Neurofilament Light, a protein that is a marker of nerve damage. Abdul Hye of King's College London announced results from a study comparing blood levels of 2,300 people with various brain disorders, including dementia, depression, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis. For comparison, healthy individuals were also included in the study.
Eight of the diseases were associated with much higher neurofilament light levels. The test can not show what disorder someone might have. But it can help you to eliminate disturbances in a patient.
Randall Bateman of the Washington University Medical School in St. Louis also helped develop a blood test that measures the Alzheimer's protein. His work is supported by the United States Government and the Alzheimer's Association.
"Everyone finds the same … the results are remarkably similar in different countries and techniques," said Bateman. He estimates that a test could be completed in three years.
Recent advances in dealing with conditions such as Alzheimer's were not limited to treatment.
Researchers at the conference also presented a new study to prevent these diseases. The study also appeared in the scientific publication of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
It turned out that people with high genetic risk and poor health are about three times more likely to suffer from dementia than people with low dementia genetic risk and good habits. And at every genetic risk, good nutrition, regular exercise, limited alcohol intake, and no tobacco use have reduced the likelihood of dementia.