Scientists reported progress yesterday toward one of medicine’s long-sought goals: the development of a blood test that can accurately diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, and even do so years before truly debilitating memory loss.
A team of scientists, based mainly at Stanford University, developed a test that was about 90 percent accurate in distinguishing the blood of people with Alzheimer’s from the blood of those without the disease. The test was about 80 percent accurate in predicting which patients with mild memory loss would go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease two to six years later.
Outside experts called the results, published online yesterday by Nature Medicine, promising but preliminary. They cautioned that the work needed to be validated by others and in much larger studies, because there have been many disappointments in the past.
“Looking for biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease is a very hot area,” said Dr. William Jagust, professor of public health and neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley. “Things tend to get a lot of attention, and they are not always borne out.”