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National Institute on Aging/National Institutes of Health

Blood test could identify early stage Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is notoriously difficult to treat, with devastating consequences for patients and their families. But scientists are now closer to a test that could spot the disease in its early stages, The New York Times reports. The blood test measures the levels of tau, a protein known to form clusters called tangles, which spread through the brain in Alzheimer’s patients. Three different research groups found that the test was able to correctly distinguish between patients with Alzheimer’s disease and those with other neurodegenerative conditions 89% of the time. It was more accurate than MRI scans, and performed as well as positron emission tomography scans and spinal fluid tests, according to studies presented yesterday at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference. It is also much less invasive. Although the test cannot predict whether someone will develop Alzheimer’s disease later in life, it could lead to earlier diagnoses and help doctors distinguish between Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, the team says.

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