Alzheimer’s Research UK and the Alzheimer’s Society have launched a £5m study to determine if a blood test could be used to diagnose people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

The project – called The Blood Biomarker Challenge – will see researchers aim to determine if someone has the disease using a single pin prick of blood. If the research is successful then blood tests could be made available on the NHS within five years.

There is no simple test for Alzheimer’s and currently diagnosis is based on a range of assessments. These can involve mental ability tests, brain scans or a lumbar puncture to sample cerebrospinal fluid.

“Nearly four in 10 people in the UK who have dementia have not received a diagnosis,” said Fiona Carragher, director of research and influencing at the Alzheimer’s Society.

“We also know that those who do have a diagnosis have often waited many months, sometimes years, to receive it.

“Thousands of families are stuck in limbo, trying to manage symptoms and plan for the future without access to the vital care and support that a diagnosis can bring.

“This could absolutely revolutionise the way dementia is diagnosed and accelerate progress towards a blood test for dementia into UK healthcare systems – a truly game changing win in the fight against this devastating disease,” Carragher added.

Dementia affects about 900,000 people in the UK, and experts predict that this figure will rise to 1.4 million by 2040.


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