Researchers from MP Biomedicals and the University of California, Los Angeles have moved a step closer to a blood test for Alzheimer's disease. Although there is no cure for the condition early diagnosis is considered crucial so that people can get drugs which slow the progress of the disease. The test relies on taking cells called monocytes from the bloodstream and measuring how well they are 'mopping up' a protein called amyloid beta that forms the plaques and tangles in the brain characteristic of Alzheimer's disease. The more amyloid beta the cells are mopping up the less chance people have of having Alzheimer's and vice versa. In a study including 18 Alzheimer's patients and 14 university professors the test proved 94% accurate in saying that the patients had the disease and 100% accurate in giving the professors a clean bill of health. The results were also found to give a positive diagnosis in 60% of a further group of participants with mild cognitive impairment which is often a precursor to full-blown Alzheimer's. The test was also accurate over time with the amyloid levels of the Alzheimer's patients declining as their condition worsened.
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