(CNN) — More than 5 million Americans are now living with Alzheimer’s according to the Alzheimer’s association. And that number is only expected to get higher in the years to come but new research is providing some hope in the fight against this disease.
Heather Snyder with the Alzheimer’s Association says scientists at the non-profit’s international conference reported results of multiple studies on advances in blood tests which may be able to detect changes in the brain 20 years before dementia symptoms start.
“Even though we’re in this unusual time, dementia isn’t stopping and neither can we,” says Snyder
It’s a disease that robs a person of their memory and eventually their life. There may soon be a new test for early detection that wouldn’t be as expensive or invasive as what we have now.
Data presented today at #AAIC20 suggests we’re getting closer to having a blood test that can accurately diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. “We’ve never seen that” much precision in previous efforts, our @DrMariaALZ says. https://t.co/MII5n4xM8s #ENDALZ— Alzheimer’s Association (@alzassociation) July 28, 2020
“The idea that we would have a tool that would help us detect multiple brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s in our doctor’s office is really exciting,” Snyder explains. “It’s essential for individuals to have an accurate diagnosis as early as possible there’s a lot that they can then do with that information.”
Synder says early detection could also help with drug advancement by speeding up the pace of clinical trials. But she cautions the research is still new.
According to Snyder, “We need to move these studies forward into the next phase. The larger and more diverse trials. So we can ultimately get to that place of having a way to identify somebody at the earliest time point and intervene then, to stop and slow the progression of this disease.”
Right now early detection tools for Alzheimer’s include taking pictures of the brain or a spinal tap. The Alzheimer’s Association says too often those tests are unavailable because they’re either not covered by insurance, difficult to access, or both.