New research finds a blood test to detect the early stages of Alzheimer's disease before symptoms show.
Research at the University of Nottingham has found that by looking for a combination of specific points in the blood, they can detect a difference between those in a healthy person and those with the disease.
This was announced at the Alzheimer's Research UK conference, bringing hope of much earlier diagnoses in the future.
They also believe the new findings could help with improvement in treatments.
The test is expected to be a quick and easy test that can be done in a clinic.
It searches for other points in the blood, called 'markers', in particular proteins related to inflammation, as well as the previously known proteins that are currently linked to Alzheimer's.
Professor Kevin Morgan from the University of Nottingham said it could be a decade before the tests can be used with patients as they still need to be validated, but the combination of markers is promising and the result will be a big step for future for treatment. The research is hoping to be used as a cheap and easy pre-screen, to be able to see anomalies highlighting Alzheimer's before symptoms appear.
Professor Morgan said:
Our findings are exciting because they show that it is technically possible to distinguish between healthy people and those with Alzheimer's using a blood test.
As blood tests are a fast and easy way of aiding diagnosis, we are really encouraged by these findings and the potential they hold for the future.
The way we see it working is you can test people and it will tell them if they have the all-clear, or if they are medium- or high-risk. If they are medium-risk, they can be monitored closely and high-risk patients can be referred to a specialist for more in-depth testing.
Dr Eric Karran, director of Research at Alzheimer's Research UK, said:
Giving people with dementia an accurate diagnosis is not always easy, and so building up our armoury of diagnostic techniques is vital.
While there is still some way to go before a test like this could become available, the results are promising.