A blood test that can predict whether a healthy person will develop mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's disease within the next three years may be ready for clinical trials in two years, say the researchers who discovered and validated the test, which they say is 90 percent accurate.
In an article published online March 9 and set for the April issue of Nature Medicine, the investigators indicate that the test may have other uses, too. The test, which identifies 10 lipids that predict disease onset, could allow Alzheimer’s disease to be diagnosed at an earlier stage, when therapy would be more effective at slowing or preventing onset of symptoms.
“Our novel blood test offers the potential to identify people at risk for progressive cognitive decline and can change how patients, their families and treating physicians plan for and manage the disorder,” says the study’s corresponding author, Howard J. Federoff, MD, PhD, professor of neurology and executive vice president for health sciences at Georgetown University Medical Center.
Federoff maintains that other studies of potential diagnostic tools to slow or reverse Alzheimer's progression may have been tested too late in the disease process. He and his colleagues, by contrast, performed their studies in the preclinical stage, so they beleive their results hold more promise.
“We consider our results a major step toward the commercialization of a preclinical disease biomarker test that could be useful for large-scale screening to identify at-risk individuals,” Federoff says. “We’re designing a clinical trial where we’ll use this panel to identify people at high risk for Alzheimer’s to test a therapeutic agent that might delay or prevent the emergence of the disease.”
Additional researchers involved with the study are from the University of Rochester School of Medicine, Temple University School of Medicine, Unity Health System in Rochester, Rochester General Hospital, Regis University School of Pharmacy in Denver and the University of California‒Irvine. A patent application has been filed by Georgetown University and the University of Rochester related to the technology.