New Blood Test Could Lead to Easier FTD Diagnosis

blood samples

A simple blood test discovered by researchers at UC San Francisco could someday lead to easier diagnoses of FTD and Alzheimer’s disease.

In a study recently published in Nature Medicine, researchers analyzed blood samples from over 300 persons diagnosed with FTD and Alzheimer’s to check for proteins that could serve as tell-tale signs of dementia. The results showed similar accuracy to current methods of distinguishing the two diseases, but suggest the blood test could be cheaper and easier.

Currently, Alzheimer’s disease can be medically confirmed with a PET scan or lumbar puncture. FTD, which does not have any confirmed biomarkers as of yet, can only be definitively diagnosed posthumously, following an autopsy.

If approved, the test would be the first to use a blood sample to confirm a diagnosis of the two neurological diseases. By distinguishing between FTD and Alzheimer’s, which have some overlapping symptoms, persons diagnosed will be better equipped to manage their illnesses.

Researchers hope to see such a test available in doctor’s offices within five years.

The blood test could also help increase the number of people eligible for clinical trials, which are essential to ongoing efforts to identify treatments.

“This test could eventually be deployed in a primary care setting for people with memory concerns to identify who should be referred to specialized centers to participate in clinical trials,” said senior study author Adam Boxer, MD, PhD, a neurologist at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center, in a news release.

Dr. Boxer is also a co-lead of the ALLFTD network, a National Institutes of Health-funded research consortium that targets FTD progression and treatment, of which AFTD is a partner.

To read more about the study, click here.

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