New Hope for Alzheimer’s Blood Test

Using autoantibodies as biomarkers, researchers could soon identify people at the highest risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases much earlier than existing methods.

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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FLICKR, NEETA LINDAutoantibodies in the blood may serve as powerful biomarkers for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and breast cancer, Robert Nagele of the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine said in a presentation yesterday (October 18) at a meeting of the American Osteopathic Association in Orlando. All people harbor thousands of such autoantibodies in their blood, but neurodegenerative and other diseases can change that profile in a disease-specific manner, paving the way to a long-sought blood test for these conditions, Nagele said.

“There are significant benefits to early disease detection because we now know that many of the same conditions that lead to vascular disease are also significant risk factors for Alzheimer’s,” Nagele said in a press release.

Of course, with only limited treatment options available, there are risks to such early detection, according to CBC Radio’s White Coat, Black Art. “It’s...

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