Fort Worth

Researchers Put Alzheimer's Blood Test To The Test

Testing is now underway on the world's first blood test designed to detect Alzheimer's disease.

Scientists at UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth created the blood test and now they're looking for trial participants to see if the test will revolutionize Alzheimer's care.

The test would be administered at your primary care physician's office and looks for biomarker proteins in the blood to detect Alzheimer’s disease.

If proven effective in this current trial, it would be possible to identify patients earlier, easier and at a lower cost than any method that exists today, said Sid O’Bryant, PhD, Professor of Pharmacology and Neuroscience. 

"I am very excited about this study.  I spent a large portion of my life trying to make this happen and I think we are almost there," said Dr. O'Bryant.

"Primary care doctors are overwhelmed with patients worried about their memory problems, yet they don't have a tool. There is no tool for them to say 'you're okay,' or 'you need a follow,' so having a blood test they can run as part of their normal routine is really going to change the practice for those doctors and patients."

UNTHSC is opening the call for study participants, people 65 or older experiencing memory issues, which requires a physician referral.

"It would be wonderful to know you had a leaning for that and you should watch out!" said Beverly Stacy Dittmer, who has agreed to sign up for the trial.

She knows the impact of Alzheimer's Disease as her husband was diagnosed last year.

She also knows little things, like staying active, eating well and mental exercise may be able help ward off the progressive disease.

As a participant in the trial, she was required to provide a blood sample, undergo an MRI and a petscan.

She said if the test comes back positive, her already busy life will become busier.

She said she will get her third degree and write her third book in the hopes of keeping her memories in tact for as long as possible.

The three-year study, funded by a $6.5 million grant from the National Institute on Aging, will look at accuracy and effectiveness of the test in screening older adults.

Dr. O'Bryant said if they can prove the test is effective, as it has already proved to be 96 percent accurate in previous trials, the simple test could be a game-changer in the diagnosis of early Alzheimer's.

"A large number of patients can be told, 'stop doctor shopping, you don't need any more tests.' For those who it does look like there's something, there are resources, ways we can help the families, medications," he said.

The blood test would not only reduce the cost of testing, but also make it possible to treat patients earlier. 

Although there is no cure for Alzheimer's, drugs are available that slow the decline in memory and minimize the effect of the disease.

Those interested in learning how to be a study participant should call 817-735-2963 for more information.

You can also visit the school's website for more information.

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