The health care industry has just experience another milestone, as scientists have successfully developed a blood test that can be used to detect Alzheimer’s in patients up to 3 years before the emergence of it’s consequential symptoms, with at least 90% accuracy.
Alzheimer’s is a well-known disease, especially among senior citizens, but it appears to be less known that the symptoms of the disease, such as gradual memory loss, only take place once the disease has taken root inside the patient’s body. Moreover, dementia has recently been proven to be responsible for about 6 times the number of deaths than it was previously thought to cause.
As the characteristics of the disease usually lead to belated diagnosis and treatment, the discovery of a new blood test is a medical breakthrough that would have a tremendously positive impact in treating Alzheimer’s. With the early diagnosis of the disease, not only will the patient be able to receive early treatment and therapy, thus effectively postpone its progression, but also the medical field will take advantage of this opportunity to develop a new drug that could combat the root of the disease.
The blood test analyses the fat-related chemicals in the body, which are also known as lipids, to determine whether the patient already has Alzheimer’s taking root or not with an accuracy as high as 90%. Those who are diagnosed as prone to develop Alzheimer’s will have different bio-markers in their blood than those are cognitively normal.
Yet, as much of a positive discovery as it is, there are some ethical concerns regarding this blood test. People who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s using this blood test should be given the freedom beforehand to make the choice whether they want to know about their possible disease and all the implied difficulties it brings about.
The blood test is still undergoing further research to validate and improve its benefit before putting it into practice, and it is believed to appear for general use within one or two years. This blood test can also be used to hold large-scale screening, especially among people who are over 65 years old, to sufficiently early identify the root of disease and provide effective treatment.
Image credit: David Jones