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Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by the buildup of a protein called beta-amyloid, which forms sticky plaques on the brain and can cause brain cells to die. Testing for the presence of these amyloid plaques on the brain is an important part of Alzheimer’s diagnosis and research.
A study, funded in part by NIA, found that a new blood test can accurately predict the presence of beta-amyloid in the brain. The blood test became even more accurate when the research team took into account the version of APOE (a gene linked to Alzheimer’s risk) that each person had. Scientists note that the blood test performs comparably to existing brain scan- or spinal tap-based tests. However, the blood samples used in the study were from majority white, affluent individuals, and may not be generalizable to other demographic groups.
Using blood samples will make it easier to screen healthy people for potential enrollment in Alzheimer’s clinical trials and could help lower costs and expand the availability of diagnostic studies for Alzheimer’s.
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