New blood test could predict Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases earlier, says GlobalData

Following the news (21st January 2019) that, according to a study published in Nature Medicine, a new blood test could detect Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other neurodegenerative diseases more than 10 years earlier,

Alessio Brunello, Pharma Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view:

“Finding a biomarker in AD that translates into clinical meaningfulness has been a real challenge for the field of biomarkers in the central nervous system (CNS). The current way to definitively diagnose AD is through a number of invasive and expensive procedures, and a PET scan can only detect amyloid betas in the brain with 20% to 30% accuracy.

“There is a great unmet need for simple, inexpensive, and non-invasive tests that could be applied on a large scale to screen for AD. The diagnosis process could take months and blood tests in development for AD could satisfy this need with accuracy close to 90% and replace CSF testing and brain imaging.

“A major challenge impacting the development of blood-based biomarker tests is the blood brain barrier (BBB), which functions to create a protective barrier around the brain and limits the flow of substances in or out of the CNS. It is quite difficult to determine whether peripheral measures of putative biomarkers are actually representative of what is going on within the section of the brain and CNS enclosed by the BBB. This difficulty has limited the development of biomarkers to a level where they can have clinical utility.

“If physicians can easily and effectively detect AD in its early stages, they can enroll patients in experimental trials for preventative treatments as lack of qualified patients for clinical trials is one of the primary reasons for drug-trial failures in AD.

“Having patients more carefully evaluated and referred to specialists who can administer more complex cognitive exams or utilize the latest diagnostic biomarker tools can confirm an AD diagnosis and enable researchers to develop preventative treatments that are most likely to be effective.”

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