Current tests for Alzheimer’s generally rely on invasive cerebrospinal fluid tests or brain scans. In recent years, there’s been a push toward development of simpler, more affordable blood tests. Recently released findings from three clinical studies show a new such test has promise.
Research published this week in JAMA Neurology looked at the effectiveness of ALZPath’s blood-based test for the biomarker phosphorylated tau at residue 217 (pTau217). The aim was to compare its ability to detect beta amyloid and tau with more traditional tests. The team found that the test was up to 96% accurate in detecting elevated beta amyloid, while its ability to detect tau was up to 97% accurate. The researchers say this means it’s roughly as effective as cerebrospinal fluid tests.
Kaj Blennow and Henrik Zetterberg, professors from the University of Gothenburg who co-wrote the study, say, “This is an instrumental finding in blood-based biomarkers for Alzheimer’s, paving the way for the clinical use of the ALZpath pTau 217 assay. This robust assay is already used in multiple labs around the globe.”
For their research, the professors’ team used data from three independent clinical studies with 786 participants. The group included those with and without cognitive impairment who were grouped by amyloid and tau status based on PET scans and cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers.
In addition to finding that the test was 96% and 97% accurate in detecting beta amyloid and tau, respectively, the researchers also found that 80% of tests were conclusive and wouldn’t have required other types of testing to confirm levels.
Dr. Andreas Jeromin, ALZpath Chief Scientific Officer, says, “This diagnostic capability offers increasingly vital aid in medical management and treatment decisions for Alzheimer’s, especially as new disease-modifying treatments become more accessible.”
The researchers do note that further study is needed, especially in more diverse populations from memory clinics. However, the test could prove to be helpful for settings where advanced testing is limited, and it could help with earlier diagnosis and earlier access to treatment.
The Alzheimer’s Association says “an urgent need exists” for simple, cheaper, non-invasive, and widely available diagnostic tools like blood tests. The organization notes that not only could they help with early detection and intervention, but they could help scientists better understand the progression of the disease itself. However, they say that at the moment, blood tests should be used cautiously because more research into them is needed.
You can read the whole study on ALZPath’s test here.