Scientists confirm blood test could track Alzheimer's diseas
A long-term study supports earlier suggestions that testing the blood for levels of a certain protein could be a noninvasive way to track the progress of Alzheimer's disease.

This new study, which features in JAMA Neurology (, suggests that measuring blood levels of neurofilament light could indicate whether drugs for treating Alzheimer's disease are working. As yet, there is no noninvasive way of doing this.

The findings follow those of another investigation that showed that measuring neurofilament light in the blood could identify Alzheimer's disease 10 years or more before the emergence of symptoms such as decline in thinking and memory.

However, the earlier study was limited to identifying people with a rare, inherited, early-onset form of Alzheimer's disease that usually strikes before the age of 65. The more recent research applies to sporadic Alzheimer's disease, a far more common, late-onset type that most often strikes after the age of 65.

The protein is called neurofilament light. It spills out of damaged and dying nerve cells, into the cerebrospinal fluid and then travels from there into the bloodstream.

Previous studies have already demonstrated that blood levels of neurofilament light are higher in people with diseases, such as Alzheimer's, that destroy nerve cells and tissue in the brain. However, few of these have been long-term investigations.

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