Mind

New blood test for Alzheimer's can detect the disease 30 years before symptoms show

While this is an incredible medical discovery, would you want to know years ahead of time that you may one day suffer from Alzheimer's disease?

Science has taken a big leap forward when it comes to detecting Alzheimer's. Australian and Japanese scientists have developed the world's first blood test that has the potential to accurately identify people at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease up to 30 years before symptoms emerge.

This major breakthrough means screening for Alzheimer's will be easier, cheaper and more broadly available than the current invasive and expensive options.

The blood test detects a specific peptide in the blood, a biomarker for the build-up of the protein amyloid beta in the brain; one of the first signs of Alzheimer's disease.

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While scientist are working hard to develop effective treatment for Alzheimer's, there is currently no cure for the disease. This then begs the questions, would people want to know years ahead of time that they will one day suffer from Alzheimer's disease?

Professor Colin Masters from the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health says people might be hesitant to take the test unless there was a proven treatment for the disease.

"Most people probably wouldn't want to have this test unless there's a specific therapy, but many others would take the view that they want to plan ahead by five or 10 years."

"If the test is negative, there's a 95 per cent chance that you're not going to develop Alzheimer's within the foreseeable future — that means within 10 or 15 years," Professor Masters said.

Alzheimer’s disease in Australia

Did you know more than 400,000 Australians are living with dementia at this very minute?

Dementia is the term used to describe the large group of illnesses that cause a steep decline in one's cognitive ability – including Alzheimer's disease.

According to Alzheimer's Australia, Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia and impacts up to 70 per cent of all people living with dementia, and can be either sporadic or familial.

It can affect people of any age, but the biggest risk for having Alzheimer's disease is ageing, itself; the older one gets, the more at risk they are of developing Alzheimer's.

If you would like to learn more about Alzheimer's disease, call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 or visit Alzheimer's Australia's website for more information.