Seminar on New Test for Early Prediction of Alzheimer’s Disease

Posted on: 29 October 2004

A seminar on the groundbreaking blood-based biomarker test for the early prediction of Alzheimer’s disease, developed by the Trinity College Dublin Chair of Psychiatry, Professor Harald Hampel, in collaboration with the German biotechnology company BRAHMS, took place on October 23rd last.  The promising test detects early systemic microvascular changes which have been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease affects 25% of people aged 85 years and over and the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease is projected to dramatically increase worldwide during the next decade.  The prediction of the development of Alzheimer’s disease at an early stage is crucial for those persons in need of treatment to delay the disease.  The results of this test will aid a larger study aimed at providing new effective treatments to sufferers as early as possible, even before irreversible damage has been inflicted on the brain.

For the purpose of the study 147 subjects took part, 94 of whom had probable Alzheimer’s disease.  The results show that the blood-based test differentiated clinically diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease from healthy subjects with an accuracy of 81%.  Commenting on the significance of this blood-based biomarker test Professor Hampel stated: “The results suggest that microvascular changes measured systemically could provide a highly sensitive diagnostic tool to aid in the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease”.

“One of the key advantages of this groundbreaking test is that it is based on blood samples which can be readily obtained by the general practitioner and would thus be amenable as a widely available screening tool.”  Previous biomarkers with good clinical accuracy for the detection of Alzheimer’s disease required expensive neuroimaging exams including MRI or PET or were based on cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), all of which are relatively difficult to access by the GP.  This pioneering investigation reveals that a blood-based diagnostic tool could be pivotal in the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease pathology in routine dementia prevention screening.