Researchers in Japan confirm blood test can detect early-stage Alzheimer's

Researchers in Japan say they have confirmed that a blood test can predict the onset of Alzheimer's disease with high accuracy.

University of Tokyo Professor Iwatsubo Takeshi and others published their findings in an international medical journal.

It is known that a type of abnormal protein -- amyloid beta -- accumulates in the brains of Alzheimer's patients long before symptoms start to appear.

Currently, Alzheimer's is diagnosed through methods that include brain-imaging tests.

The scientists conducted a detailed analysis of blood taken from 474 individuals in Japan who hadn't developed the disease and compared the results to the diagnosis from brain images.

Scientists say they were able to predict amyloid status in the brain with high accuracy through blood analysis of two proteins -- amyloid beta and tau phosphorylated at threonine 217, or p-tau217.

They say that by adding other information, such as the age of the individuals, the blood tests showed an accuracy rate of over 90 percent in predicting amyloid buildup.

Professor Iwatsubo said new Alzheimer's drugs have recently been approved for use in the early stages of the disease.

He says future treatments will likely target people who have yet to develop Alzheimer's, and blood tests that can detect the disease would assist early treatment.