New blood test can detect Alzheimer’s before symptoms appear

A new system that could lead to diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease through a blood test was created by a group of researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS). The system, called APEX (Amplified Plasmonic EXosome), is structured so that it can identify an early molecular marker of Alzheimer’s disease, the aggregated beta-amyloid (Aβ).

It is a technology that according to the researchers is “highly sensitive” and can provide an “accurate diagnosis, comparable to the PET image of the brain.” The latter is the standard for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease. The difference lies in the fact that a test carried out with the APEX system, according to the researchers, would cost only $30, less than 1% of the cost that must be faced with PET imaging.

The system sees a direct analysis of the blood plasma sample and would also be very simple to use. The results of the two-year study that led to the creation of this method were published in Nature Communications.

However, one of the main features of this system is not in the cost or in the ease of use but in the fact that it allows, according to the researchers, very early diagnosis compared to the classical methods. Precisely the untimely diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is one of the main causes of the failure of therapies that need early intervention. A solution can arrive with the PET imaging system or with the cerebrospinal fluid test, but these are too expensive tests that are therefore not widely adopted.

The new test “captures” effectively, and measures the quantities, only the most significant amyloid-beta molecules in the blood sample and at the same time the more “early” ones, in order to analyze the first aggregated forms of this protein to allow detection of the Alzheimer’s even before the classic clinical symptoms appear.