The NHS is initiating a study to determine whether blood tests could aid in the diagnosis of individuals with very early Alzheimer's disease.
According to experts, individuals could have access to more support and novel treatments to halt the progression of the disease if the condition were detected much earlier.
The £5 million funding for the five-year initiative comes from the People's Postcode Lottery. Alzheimer's is currently not diagnosed with a single test, and patients may have to wait years for a diagnosis.
While a blood test cannot provide a definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, it could serve as a cost-effective and straightforward method for physicians to identify patients who are exhibiting latent physical symptoms of the condition years prior to the onset of obvious symptoms.
There are numerous in development throughout the world and some are even in private clinics in the United States.
Trace amounts of brain proteins that have entered the bloodstream are being searched for. The accumulation of these proteins, including tau and amyloid, in the brain begins at least a decade prior to the onset of memory loss and bewilderment.
New Alzheimer's medications, including lecanemab and donanemab, can remove a portion of this buildup in the brain.
As of now, the majority of amyloid-lowering drug trials have been conducted on patients with advanced disease, and many researchers believe that the window of opportunity to prevent cognitive decline may have passed by the time symptoms appear.
A blood test could prove to be extremely beneficial in individuals with amyloid accumulation who have not yet developed symptoms, as the medications may be more efficacious at an earlier stage.
Fiona Carragher, representing the Alzheimer's Society mentioned that nearly four in ten individuals with dementia in the United Kingdom have not been diagnosed.
Additionally, it is common knowledge that individuals who have obtained a diagnosis have frequently endured months, if not years, of anticipation before receiving it.
Having a biomarker that is quantifiable for the disease would also enable the monitoring of the efficacy of novel treatments.
The recruitment target for the NHS Blood Biomarker Challenge is a minimum of one thousand NHS patients.
The National Institute for Health and Care Research, Alzheimer's Society, and Alzheimer's Research UK are collaborating on this initiative with the UK Dementia Research Institute at University College London.
Dr. Susan Kohlhaas of Alzheimer's Research UK stated that they must evaluate the efficacy of these tests in real-world contexts, such as the NHS, and remove them from the laboratory.
A blood test would still require approval from UK regulators and demonstration by research that it is cost-effective for the NHS to implement.
Emma Ruscoe, 55, from Solihull, stated that her spouse Simon was not diagnosed with young-onset dementia for four years however, when she learned Simon's prognosis, she experienced an immense sense of relief.
The existence of a blood test would have prevented much suffering as the family found it extremely difficult to cope with the uncertainty.
In the United Kingdom, Alzheimer's disease impacts approximately six out of every ten individuals with dementia.
Alzheimer's disease is not a typical consequence of ageing; however, the risk of developing the condition rises with increasing age.