Promising finger-prick blood test for Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Promising finger-prick blood test for Alzheimer's diagnosis

Innovative Blood Test Shows Promise in Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosis

Blood Drop on Fingertip

July 20, 2023 – Researchers have made a breakthrough in Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis with a new finger-prick blood test that accurately identifies key biomarkers related to the disease. This innovative approach eliminates the need for temperature or storage control measures, making the testing process more efficient and accessible.

Traditionally, blood samples have been used to detect amyloid and other markers of Alzheimer’s in clinical trials. However, the strict protocols, time limitations, and temperature-dependent storage requirements pose logistical challenges. To address these limitations, researchers conducted a pilot study that utilized a new method of detecting biomarkers by dropping a small blood sample onto a blood spot card, which can be dried and kept at room temperature.

In a pilot study involving 77 volunteers attending a memory clinic in Barcelona, the accuracy of the blood test was investigated. Whole blood samples were obtained using traditional needles and syringes, as well as through a finger-prick method similar to diabetes blood testing. Additionally, cerebrospinal fluid samples were collected from a subset of 28 patients, representing the gold standard for Alzheimer’s disease diagnostics.

The blood samples were then shipped overnight without temperature control to another facility where they were extracted from the blood spot cards and tested for the presence of Alzheimer’s biomarkers. Astonishingly, the results showed an “extremely good relationship” between information obtained from blood samples obtained through the traditional method and those obtained from a single finger prick.

The study findings, presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2023, demonstrated that numerous established markers for Alzheimer’s disease can be measured in a single finger prick. This breakthrough eliminates the need for centrifugation and freezing of samples, allowing the test to be conducted anywhere without the need for special facilities.

If validated in larger trials, this finger-prick blood test could revolutionize Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis. Patients with memory complaints could potentially be tested remotely through online memory tests and mail-in blood spot cards. This would make earlier diagnosis easier and also enable regular monitoring of treatment response, which is crucial with the emergence of disease-modifying drugs.

By sending periodic blood samples to a laboratory, patients who receive these treatments can track their progress on the drug. Instead of a blanket 6-month check-up, the monitoring can be personalized and performed on a weekly basis. This approach ensures that treatment plans are adjusted according to individual needs and responses.

The stability of the blood samples for up to a month at room temperature is an encouraging finding. However, unsupervised blood collection poses some challenges that need to be addressed. Nevertheless, this innovative approach holds great promise for areas with limited resources, allowing finger-prick blood samples to be dried and shipped without temperature control for earlier and more accurate diagnoses.

Percy Griffin, PhD, director of scientific engagement for the Alzheimer’s Association, commended the research for its potential impact on improving diagnostic accuracy and appropriate treatment. He highlighted the fact that these blood tests were more accurate in identifying Alzheimer’s disease compared to primary care doctors. Inaccuracy in diagnosis often leads to uncertainty and potentially inappropriate treatment, making the results of this study crucial in enhancing patient care and outcomes.

It’s important to note that this was a pilot study, and further research is needed to validate these findings. However, the breakthrough in using finger-prick blood samples for Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis brings us one step closer to more accessible and accurate diagnostic methods.