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Blood test to diagnose Alzheimer's disease for Australian patients

Photo: Blood test to diagnose Alzheimer's disease for Australian patients
A new, simple blood test to detect Alzheimer’s disease is coming to Australia through the Australian Dementia Network, which is supported by the University of Melbourne.

The blood test accurately measures one of the proteins—P-tau181—implicated in Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study in Lancet Neurology.

Tau protein in the brain is one of the hallmarks of the disease along with the clumpy plaques caused by the protein amyloid β.

Prior to this discovery, detecting the proteins and confirming an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis was possible only through expensive PET scans, invasive lumbar punctures, or autopsy.

The search for an Alzheimer’s disease blood test has been years in the making, but a test sensitive enough to detect the tau protein has long eluded researchers. The discovery has been described as a major advance by the scientists behind the test in Sweden, Canada and the UK.
This week, Australian researchers from the Australian Dementia Network and the AIBL study of Ageing are sending blood samples from Australian participants to Sweden as part of further analysis of the accuracy of the new test.

According to University of Melbourne Professor Christopher Rowe, Director of the Australian Dementia Network, it will then be introduced to several sites around the country for testing in clinical practice.

“We are working with the Swedish team to introduce the blood test to several sites around Australia with the aim of making it available to the Australian community as soon as possible,” Professor Rowe said.

“This will be initially through the Australian Dementia Network’s affiliated memory clinics to collect the information on accuracy and impact on patient care that is needed to obtain approval for widespread use in the Australian community.”

The Australian Dementia Network is an initiative of the Australian Government, 18 national academic and clinical partners, and philanthropists. It brings together Australia’s leading researchers, clinicians and consumers in a powerful network for dementia prevention, treatment and care.

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