Researchers in the US have developed a new Alzheimer's blood test that could pick up on the very early stages of Alzheimer's disease with 100 percent accuracy when tested on 174 individuals. 

Announced at the annual Society for Neuroscience conference in Washington last weekend, the test allows for Alzheimer's treatment to begin much faster than ever before.

While other Alzheimer's blood tests were announced just months ago - including one that claims 90 percent accuracy by identifying 10 specific proteins found in affected brain tissue - this new test is more efficient, as it only needs to examine a single protein. The protein, called IRS-1, plays a key role in insulin signalling in the brain, and the reseachers think it's defective in all Alzheimer's patients.

To test this, the team, led by neuroscientist Dimitrios Kapogiannis from the US National Institute on Ageing, recruited 70 volunteers with diagnosed Alzheimer's disease, 20 elderly volunteers who were mentally fine but had diabetes, and 84 healthy adults. They collected blood samples from everybody, and analysed these with samples that had been previous taken from 22 of the Alzheimer's patients up to 10 years prior to them being diagnosed. 

According to told Sarah Knapton at The Telegraph, they found that the volunteers with Alzheimer's had much higher levels of inactive IRS-1 proteins in their blood samples, which also showed up clearly in the samples taken prior to their diagnoses. "These levels were so consistent that the team could predict whether a blood sample came from an Alzheimer's patient, healthy individual, or a diabetic - with no errors," says Knapton.

"We were able to perfectly classify patients and controls," Kapogiannis said at the conference.

The team is now working on expanding their study to evaluate the blood test in a much larger pool of volunteers over a longer period of time. "We will need replication and validation, but I'm very optimistic this work will hold," Kapogiannis said.

Source: The Telegraph