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2015.0415

Taiwan team unveils new blood test for Alzheimer’s

•Publication Date:04/07/2015

•Source: Taiwan Today

A research team from Taiwan recently introduced a low-risk blood screening technique capable of detecting the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease in five hours with an accuracy rate of 85 percent.

Comprising researchers from the College of Medicine of National Taiwan University and National Taiwan Normal University, the team used an immunomagnetic reduction assay in 30 patients with mild cognitive impairment or dementia due to Alzheimer’s, as well as 30 healthy seniors.

The researchers studied the two test groups’ brain MRI scans and cognitive function test results, discovering that the former had significantly increased levels of plasma tau, a blood biomarker for Alzheimer’s.

“We believe that plasma tau may serve as a window to structure and function of the brain,” said Horng Herng-er, a professor with NTNU Institute of Electro-Optical Science and Technology. “But the high levels of plasma tau are significantly diluted after the biomarkers are diffused to a patient’s blood, making it hard to screen the disease through blood testing.”

Horng said the more commonly adopted cerebrospinal fluid analysis is invasive and often produces a low accuracy rate given the existence of other proteins in the fluid.

Based on the research results, the team developed an immunomagnetic reduction method for detecting low levels of plasma tau in blood samples. “Since there is no cure available for Alzheimer’s yet, early diagnosis can slow the disease’s progression with aggressive treatment.”

Dr. Chiu Ming-jan, the lead physician involved in the study, expects the test to greatly facilitate follow-up treatment and assessment of drug efficacy. “The screening has been implemented at several hospitals, and may be extended to medical institutions nationwide next year.”

The study was published last year in U.S.-based journal Human Brain Mapping. (SFC-JSM)

Write to Taiwan Today at ttonline@mofa.gov.tw