Scientists say they have made major progress towards an inexpensive blood test for Alzheimer's – and it could help spot the disease before symptoms even appear. Studies in Sweden and the US showed it is possible to measure small levels of tau, a protein which is more prevalent in those with Alzheimer's, and predict the disease with a 96% accuracy.
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Researchers are hopeful that with further studies, the new blood test could be a tool for doctors to test patients with. Currently, Alzheimer's is diagnosed using brain scans, spinal fluid tests and memory tests, and more often, only once symptoms have already begun. Early diagnosis is believed to be key in slowing down the effects of, and treating, the disease.
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The new research was presented at the virtual Alzheimer's Association International Conference, and is the first blood test to be able to measure the particular form of the tau protein, p-tau217. One of the studies found that measuring this could determine Alzheimer's from other forms of dementia. There are 850,000 people living in the with dementia in the UK today, with signs of the disease including loss of memory, confusion, problems with speech and language and personality changes. It is most common in people over the age of 65, with the risk of Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia increasing with age.
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