Brain Health Registry Newsletter - February 2019

February 2019

Now more than ever, there is a critical need to identify individuals who are at risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Here at the Brain Health Registry (BHR), we believe in leveraging the Internet to help meet this need. We thank you for your participation in the BHR, which allows us to address this important challenge.

Recent Breakthroughs with Blood Tests

Alzheimer’s disease is difficult to detect in its earliest stages. Currently memory and thinking tests together with clinical evaluation, including information from friends and family, is the standard non-invasive method for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease.  Since it’s crucial to identify Alzheimer’s disease before memory and thinking problems arise, scientists are working to develop other tests to identify signs of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain before a person experiences symptoms. At this time, for research purposes, the tests that reliably diagnose brain changes in Alzheimer’s disease are brain imaging (PET) scans, or the collection of cerebrospinal fluid by lumbar puncture, both of which are expensive, time consuming, and invasive.  However, there’s good news! Over the past few years, scientists have developed blood tests show that promise for screening of Alzheimer’s disease.

Blood Tests for Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is difficult to detect in its earliest stages. Currently memory and thinking tests together with clinical evaluation, including information from friends and family, is the standard non-invasive method for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease.  Since it’s crucial to identify Alzheimer’s disease before memory and thinking problems arise, scientists are working to develop other tests to identify signs of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain before a person experiences symptoms. At this time, for research purposes, the tests that reliably diagnose brain changes in Alzheimer’s disease are brain imaging (PET) scans, or the collection of cerebrospinal fluid by lumbar puncture, both of which are expensive, time consuming, and invasive.  However, there’s good news! Over the past few years, scientists have developed blood tests show that promise for screening of Alzheimer’s disease.

These blood tests have the potential to be accessible to many more people because they are expected to be significantly less expensive than the current methods of identifying Alzheimer’s disease. And, of course, blood tests are not very invasive, especially when compared to PET brain scans or lumbar punctures.

These findings have sparked hope and excitement for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease in the near future, but scientists still need to do more research to develop a blood test that reliably identifies those with brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease with certainty. The Brain Health Registry team is now starting to plan studies that will use blood testsAs scientists are able to identify Alzheimer’s earlier, this will help researchers test new treatments to prevent Alzheimer’s disease in healthy older adults.  Ultimately, the more researchers learn about blood and other related tests, the closer we will get to using these methods in standard medical practice.