Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a serious degenerative brain disease that affected an estimated 5.4 million Americans in 2016— a number that is estimated to only increase as the aging population continues to grow. Early diagnosis is critical in working to control disease progression, and new research has suggested this may soon be easier than ever before. A team of international researchers have recently published their research on developing a blood test for diagnosing Alzheimer’s using biomarkers for the disease found in the blood.

In their research, the team have developed technology that detects brain tau protein, a hallmark of AD, in the blood platelets of patients. Then then use the the ratio between this anomalous tau and the normal tau protein to help distinguish AD patients from normal controls. The believe this finding is a step forward in using of biomarkers, not only for clinical purposes, but also for research dedicated to better understand the pathology of AD.

Read: Blood Test Could Indicate Probability of Alzheimer's Disease

This is not the first time researchers have tried to develop a blood test for an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Earlier this year, a study published in Journal of Alzheimer's Disease focused on using levels of a protein called clusterin, alongside other factors in a computer model, to help accurately determine which dementia patients would go on to develop AD.

What’s more, a study published in 2015 delved to make AD diagnosis by attempting to find the disease using patient’s saliva. For the study, researchers at the University of Alberta, Edmonton found specific metabolites , which are the molecular byproducts of metabolism, present in saliva could indicate metabolic changes in the brain signifying early stages of Alzheimer’s. They then used linked the presence of certain metabolites in saliva with a person’s cognitive abilities. For example, the presence of certain metabolites was associated with higher levels of cognitive decline. Although still in the early stages of research, a saliva test for AD would provide an easy and affordable way to get this test to more people who need it.

Source: Slachevsky A, Guzmán-Martínez L, Delgado C, et al. Tau Platelets Correlate with Regional Brain Atrophy in Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease. Journal of Alzheimer's Diseas e . 2016

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