SAN FRANCISCO (CBS) – In what is being hailed as a huge breakthrough for millions of suffering patients and their loved ones, a newly developed blood test for Alzheimer’s disease is now within reach.
“This is one of the major breakthroughs certainly of the decade,” says University of San Francisco neurologist and radiologist Dr. Michael Weiner, an expert in Alzheimer’s disease.
The test uses a method to detect and measure certain proteins associated with the degenerative brain disorder.
“It’s a very big deal and its very important,” says Dr. Weiner. “It’s not a treatment, it’s not a cure. That’s what we really need. We need treatments and cures to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, but you can’t treat a disease unless you diagnose it.”
During the coronavirus pandemic, Kacy Counte was worried. Her mother was hospitalized and delirious. Could she have Alzheimer’s?
“It was something that was really scary because she was really confused she didn’t recognize us,” says Counte.
The delirium passed, her mom was fine, but it hit home.
“I can’t imagine that’s something that’s awful,” says Alzheimer’s patient Cece Sellgren. “You know it’s a very difficult process. It’s a process of ruling out.”
Sellgren, who is 56-years-old, knows first hand.
“They were looking at head injuries that I got as a kid, they were looking at the effects of being post-menopausal ,” says Sellgren. “You know a lot of shooting in the dark trying to figure out what it was and the whole process of ruling out.”
After a year of multiple tests, including an expensive PET scan, Sellgren was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
“I had to make the decision to retire before I had planned to do so,” she says.
Now, a simple blood test for Alzheimer’s may take the guess work out.
A new study published in the the Journal of the American Medical Association, found the experimental test is highly accurate at distinguishing patients with Alzheimer’s from those who had another condition.
“Yes this is a game changer,” says Counte. “We’re going from walking around in a darkened room from to have the lights turned on.”
As for Sellgren, she’s hopeful blood tests like these will help to accelerate research, treatments and cures
“Not only for me, but for future generations down the line,”s she says.
“This is something that can potentially save a lot of lives and be a good fix for family member all across the U.S.’
Many other blood tests are now in development. Experts believe we may see them in the clinic in just a few years.
The study was funded in part by the Alzheimer’s Association Walks.