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A blood test could predict the risk of Alzheimer’s disease

High-tech analysis picks up minuscule bits of amyloid-beta floating in plasma

By
4:03pm, February 1, 2018
amyloid-beta illustration

STICKY SITUATION  Accumulations of a sticky protein called amyloid-beta (the tumbleweed-like balls in this illustration) can appear in the brain decades before a person develops Alzheimer’s disease.

A new blood test might reveal whether someone is at risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease.

The test measures blood plasma levels of a sticky protein called amyloid-beta. This protein can start building up in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients decades before there’s any outward signs of the disease. Typically, it takes a brain scan or spinal tap to discover these A-beta clumps, or plaques, in the brain. But evidence is growing that A-beta levels in the blood can be used to predict whether or not a person has these brain plaques, researchers report online January 31 in Nature.

These new results mirror those of a smaller 2017 study by a different team of scientists. “It’s a fantastic confirmation of the findings,” says Randall Bateman, an Alzheimer’s researcher at

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