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Alzheimer's Blood Test

Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, Missouri claim they have made significant progress toward developing a blood test that can detect Alzheimer's — up to 20 years before symptoms appear.

They're hoping the test will aid future dug trials by speeding up the screening process for potential clinical trial participants, according to The New York Times — and, in the process, accelerate the path to a treatment for Alzheimer's.

"Right now, we screen people for clinical trials with brain scans, which is time-consuming and expensive, and enrolling participants takes years," said Randall Bateman, professor of neurology at Washington University and senior author of the paper published in Neurology on Thursday, in a statement. "But with a blood test, we could potentially screen thousands of people a month."

The Silent Disease

The blood test measures levels of amyloid beta, a protein that is found in the brains of Alzhheimer's patients — a test that can currently be carried out only through an expensive PET scan.

But it's not quite ready to become a fully-fledged diagnostic test just yet: the success rate of the new test was only 88 percent in a test involving 158 adults over 50 years old.

It could however help medical health professionals in the future with screening for Alzheimer's in a matter of years — and the earlier doctors can detect signs of this "silent disease," the better.

READ MORE: Alzheimer's blood test 'one step closer' [BBC]

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