Rowan University researchers develop blood test to detect early Alzheimer's

- Researchers from Rowan University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine and Durin Technologies, Inc. have announced the development of a blood test that has the capability to detect early Alzheimer’s disease.

Rowan’s research team, headed by Dr. Robert Nagele, the study’s corresponding author and director of the Biomarker Discovery Center at Rowan’s New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging, has created a blood test that can enable the body’s immune response system to detect the disease in the early stages – in the mild cognitive impairment (MCI) stage – with “unparalleled accuracy.”

"About 60 percent of all MCI patients have MCI caused by an early stage of Alzheimer's disease," said Cassandra DeMarshall, the study's lead author, and a Ph.D. candidate at the Rowan University Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. "To provide proper care, physicians need to know which cases of MCI are due to early Alzheimer's and which are not."

"Our results show that it is possible to use a small number of blood-borne autoantibodies to accurately diagnose early-stage Alzheimer's. These findings could eventually lead to the development of a simple, inexpensive and relatively noninvasive way to diagnose this devastating disease in its earliest stages," DeMarshall continued.

The researchers conducted a proof study involving 236 subjects, which was able to detect 100 percent of subject whose MCI was brought on by an early stage of Alzheimer’s disease.

In a press release, Nagele explained that Alzheimer’s-related changes start in the brain at least a decade before determining symptoms emerge.

"Our results show that it is possible to use a small number of blood-borne autoantibodies to accurately diagnose early-stage Alzheimer's. These findings could eventually lead to the development of a simple, inexpensive and relatively noninvasive way to diagnose this devastating disease in its earliest stages," DeMarshall added.

Rowan University researchers analyzed blood samples from 236 subjects, including 50 MCI subjects, for the study.

According to Rowan, they identified the top 50 autoantibody biomarkers that are capable of detecting ongoing early-stage Alzheimer’s in patients. They say the 50 biomarkers worked with 100 percent accuracy in distinguishing patients Alzheimer’s across multiple tests.

The results were presented in an article published in Alzheimer's & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring. The article also reported the test’s ability to accurately “stage the disease,” meaning that it can distinguish early-stage Alzheimer’s at MCI from later, more advanced stages.

The authors say that potential benefits could arise from early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and the ability to stage the disease through a simple blood test. For example, patients could possibly delay disease progression through lifestyle changes, begin treatment sooner, and plan future medical care.

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