Alzheimer’s Biomarkers: Blood test for proteins

Detecting Alzheimer’s disease before symptoms appear will change quality of life for multiple generations.  We are looking for Alzheimer’s biomarkers, or markers in the blood, to enable clear medical diagnosis based on biological criteria.  This is a more precise approach than today, where Alzheimer’s is diagnosed with an doctor’s assessment using clinical criteria, or a brain scan showing plaque well after symptoms are present.

1. Who conducted this study to detect Alzheimer’s?

Japanese scientists.

2. What did the study do ?

The study is looking for ways to diagnosis Alzheimer’s disease with a biological test before symptoms occur.

The goal is to identify and validate biomarkers for alzheimer’s disease.  In this case, they are looking for amyloid-beta markers in blood tests.  It appears that 90% of the time, they were able to see a correlation between another protein (APP) and its composites to predict amyloid-bet markers.

3. Where is early diagnosis research occuring?

In a small study that seems promising, but we still have some more science to do to use blood biomarkers for alzheimer’s disease.

The Alzheimer’s Association notes brain imaging studies, and proteins in cerebrospinal fluid, along with other types of research programs committed to early diagnosis.

4. When did this study get published?

First, in January 31, 2018, in Nature.com.

February 1, 2018 in CNN.com. February 2, 2018, in Science Alert.

5. Why do we want a biomarker test for Alzheimer’s?

We have no way to medically diagnosis the disease before symptoms arise.

We can diagnose the disease once you have plaque on your brain, but by then you are well into the disease.  We can diagnosis the disease by asking someone a series of questions, and then making a judgement based on clinical criteria.

Alzheimer’s disease is increasing in prominence since more people are living longer, and we are facing more end of life disease complexities in the US.  Generational population increases by the boomers have raised everyone’s awareness.  We even see Bill Gates making a personal commitment to the Dementia Discovery Fund because his father has Alzheimer’s.   Its fair to say this is a problem of our time.

Our first step to solving a problem is identification.  We seem to be gaining some momentum around defining the disease with biomarkers including CSF biomarkers, cerebral spinal fluid, neuro-imaging scans like PET and MRIs, and these blood scans for protein biomarkers.  This gives us hope on getting earlier interaction, support and tools for people with the diagnosis, and their caregivers.

Alzheimer’s specifically produces these AB plaques; there are many other causes of dementia.

This test doesn’t offer a clear diagnosis for non-Alzheimer’s dementia, and I am optimistic that this type of research will inform our understanding of brain diseases on the whole.