American scientists announced on Tuesday that a new blood test, which can be used to determine with certainty whether someone will develop Alzheimer's in the future, will be available within a few years. This is especially important for the development of a drug for the most common form of dementia, Deputy director Marco Blom of Alzheimer Nederland told Wednesday with NU.nl.
With the blood test, researchers can see whether the person will develop Alzheimer's disease ten to fifteen years before a person develops complaints. In addition, researchers can also distinguish Alzheimer's from other forms of memory diseases.
"The new blood test is an especially important step because it could lead to a new drug. Therefore, early detection of the disease in the future may also result in being able to treat the disease at an early stage," Blom says.
There is an enthusiastic response within science and he believes the blood test is a step forward. Current Alzheimer's patients are not helped with this, however, he agrees.
Amsterdam misses congress due to corona crisis
- The Alzheimer's test is the biggest news at the Alzheimer Association International Conference, which will be held this week. The largest conference for dementia scientists from all over the world should have been held in the RAI in Amsterdam, but because of the coronavirus that 'neurological party' was canceled. Instead, dementia scientists are now virtually joining the lectures and presentations.
96 percent chance of correct test result
The chance of the blood test giving the correct result is 96 percent, according to the researchers. That sounds fantastic, "but if you are going to treat a hundred people with medicines, four people will not benefit from this," Blom emphasizes.
According to him, more research is needed to get that 100 percent certainty.
It is also not a matter of no use, then it will not harm. The treatment is too expensive and burdensome because of the risk of side effects, Blom explains.
When should I be concerned about forgetfulness?
Do you actually want to know if you get Alzheimer's?
As for other dementia diseases, there is still no cure for Alzheimer's. Still, scientists in the United States are well underway to develop a potential anti-Alzheimer's drug. They hope to get the drug on the American market within a year.
The chance that such a drug will work in someone with an advanced stage of dementia is small, says Blom. "Simply put, there are already too many holes in the head. That is why it is important to detect the disease as early as possible," he says. The new Alzheimer's test may play an important role in this.
Finally, the test also poses an ethical question. "Because do you and your family want to know if you get Alzheimer's? If so, you can organize your life accordingly. At the same time, you have the same right not to want to know. These are complex considerations that you have to think carefully about" said Blom.
See also: Alzheimer's: What is it and how do you recognize it?