Simple blood test detects Alzheimer’s
According to the article “Classification and prediction of Clinical Alzheimer’s Diagnosis Based on Plasma Signaling Proteins,” published in the Oct. 14, 2007, issue of “Nature Medicine,” researchers at Stanford University have developed a blood test that shows promise for detecting with a high degree of accuracy who currently has and who is most at risk for getting Alzheimer’s.
In a retrospective study, Stanford researchers collected more than 200 stored blood samples taken from people with no cognitive impairment, mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. One hundred and twenty proteins in the blood samples were analyzed and a distinctive pattern of 18 proteins was found to be useful in identifying the people with Alzheimer’s. The proteins regulate normal functions, such as inflammation, that experts think may go awry in Alzheimer’s.
Next, researchers investigated whether the proteins could be used to distinguish people with Alzheimer’s or at risk for it in a batch of “ blinded” blood samples where the diagnosis was not known until after researchers’ predictions were made. The 18-protein signature proved to be 89 percent accurate in distinguishing those with Alzheimer’s from those without, and about 82 percent accurate in predicting which of those with mild cognitive impairment would go on to develop Alzheimer’s.
Clearly, the results from this blood test experiment must be validated in other studies and by other researchers before its true predictive power is known.
However, this is particularly encouraging because forewarned is forearmed: early intervention on psychological, behavioral and medical fronts may prolong quality of life through delay of onset and reduction of early symptom severity.
Peggy Nolen is a licensed professional counselor in Covington. lShe specializes in recovery from traumatic experience, problems with drugs and alcohol, anxiety and depression. She can be reached at (770) 314-5924.