KYOTO – A team of Japanese researchers has developed what could be the world’s first method to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease from blood.
Although the method is not currently able to provide a definitive diagnosis, it can be used in health checkups for people aged 60 or over, according to team member Takahiko Tokuda, professor at Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine.
The finding by Tokuda’s team was published by a British science magazine on Monday.
Alzheimer’s patients have a buildup of a type of protein called phosphorylated tau in their brains.
Currently, the disease is diagnosed by the examination of extracted spinal fluid. This method is not popular and many patients are reluctant to undergo the procedure, according to the researchers.
The team managed to improve the detection sensitivity of phosphorylated tau in blood to 1,000 times the current levels by using an ultrasensitive detector developed by U.S. company Quanterix and optimizing the combination of reagents.
After testing the method on 20 patients between the ages of 60 and 89, the team found that the method had an “intermediate degree of accuracy,” Tokuda said.
The researchers plan to undertake large-scale testing with organizations including Osaka University and Oita University.