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Arizona doctors trying blood test that could diagnose Alzheimer’s earlier

(AP Photo/Denis Farrell, File)

PHOENIX — A one-drop blood test that could lead to the earlier detection of Alzheimer’s Disease is being pioneered by doctors in Arizona.

The test is being led by doctors at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. It is being performed on people with Down syndrome because of their high risk of dementia. Some start showing signs of memory loss as early as their 30s.

The new test is supposed to detect genetic changes that indicate the beginning of memory loss in Down syndrome patients before they notice it themselves.

“We would love to be able to detect on a blood test if you’re going to get Alzheimer’s five, 10, 20 years from now,” study leader Dr. Marwan Sabbagh said. “Then we could apply a prevention strategy in advance of the onset of symptoms.”

Sabbagh said while prevention is the ultimate goal, that is still down the road. But he said Alzheimer’s research has come a long way in recent years.

“We could see the first generation of disease modifying drugs to slow down Alzheimer’s as early as 2017 or 2018,” Sabbagh said.

Sabbagh said it is too early to determine if this one-drop blood test will lead to earlier detection for the general population.

A joint grant from the Global Down Syndrome Foundation and Alzheimer’s Association is helping to sponsor research for the one-drop blood test.

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