Daily Mail

90% accurate test for Alzheimer’s on the NHS by 2028

- By Kate Pickles Health Editor

A SIMPLE test for alzheimer’s which will ‘transform’ diagnosis will be rolled out on the nHS within five years.

Trials have found the test – which looks for signs of the disease in the blood – can detect up to 90 per cent of cases.

The nHS will launch a series of pilots from January in what charities say is a major milestone in tackling the disease.

Doctors are hopeful the tests will become the gold standard for identifyin­g the biggest killer in the Uk, boosting and speeding up detection rates.

at present, the only ways to definitive­ly diagnose alzheimer’s are through expensive brain scans or lumbar punctures, which involve taking a fluid sample from the patient’s spinal cord.

But a lack of diagnostic capacity and long waiting lists mean only 2 per cent of cases are diagnosed this way.

With breakthrou­gh treatments such as donanemab and lecanemab on the horizon, experts say it is vital to have a quick and reliable diagnosis, when drugs could be most effective. The £ 5 million project is being launched by alzheimer’s Research Uk and the alzheimer’s Society to gather the real-world evidence needed for a mass rollout.

Dr Susan kohlhaas, of alzheimer’s Research Uk, said the world was ‘on the cusp of a new era of dementia treatments’ but these would be possible only with better diagnoses.

Cheap and reliable tests such as those looking for biomarkers – telltale signs in the blood such as amyloid and tau – were therefore essential to exploit the ‘chink in the armour’ that has been discovered. She said: ‘ We need better, more scalable tests that are also accurate and compare to current gold-standard methods.

‘Low-cost tools like blood tests that are non-invasive and simpler to administer than current goldstanda­rd methods are the answer to this. But we need to move these tests out of the lab and assess their effectiven­ess in realworld settings like the NHS.’

around 900,000 people in the Uk live with dementia, with numbers rising to 1.6 million by 2040. Yet patients often face waits of between two and four years for a diagnosis, with around one in four dying before any formal diagnosis is made. a range of tests for alzheimer’s are in the research stages, including those looking for specific proteins that occur before dementia symptoms appear. Pharmaceut­ical giants Roche and Eli Lilly have joined forces to develop a blood test for alzheimer’s.

Dr Fiona Carragher, of the alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘Getting an early and accurate diagnosis is the pivotal first step. a diagnosis should unlock access to personalis­ed care and support, allowing people with their loved ones and family around them to live independen­tly in the place they call home for as long as possible.’

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