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A simple and cheap blood test may determine if you can develop dementia.

Australian and Japanese researchers are on to develop a simple, easy and cheap test that can detect spots of Dementia in the brain. Scientists have been investigating the use of blood tests in the search of a biomarker for dementia and other neuro-degenerative diseases for over a decade. However, this may be the first time that a simple blood test can be as accurate as the most common methods used so far.

In order for a person to be tested for Dementia, he/she needs to do a positron-emission tomography image of the brain, or have some cerebrospinal fluid extracted from the spinal cord to measure the levels of amyloid-β, a protein linked to the development and spread of Alzheimer’s disease. These tests are expensive and, in the case of the cerebrospinal fuid, rather painful.

A prototype biomarker test was developed by Dr. Katsuhiko Yanagisawa and colleagues, at the Center for Development of Advanced Medicine for Dementia in Obu, Japan. Their findings were published in Nature last month.

Further research and human trials are still necessary to be able to confirm the efficiency of the biomarker in accurately detecting high levels of amyloid-β in the brain. A successful biomarker of Alzheimer’s disease could assess whether a person can develop the disease with time. More importantly, this research can lead to the manufacturing of drugs that may halt or even prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease when detected at its early stages.