Recently at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC) in Amsterdam, new guidelines for diagnosing Alzheimer's disease developed by clinicians and researchers from around the world were presented. Per the guidelines, Alzheimer’s is diagnosed in the clinic using blood biomarkers, just as with diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
A blood test has been developed for this purpose in recent years that gives very good results, according to recent research. Charlotte Teunissen, PhD, professor of neurochemistry at Amsterdam UMC, who was involved in drafting the new guidelines, said, “A new generation of biomarkers is now available to detect Alzheimer's disease more and more effectively. We have already gained a lot of experience with this in our Alzheimer's center, but in the long term the test can also be successfully implemented after a GP's referral.”
Desire for Diagnosis
New research by Amsterdam University Medical Centers (UMC) with Alzheimer Nederland shows that many people with cognitive symptoms want to know whether they are in the early stages of Alzheimer's. A diagnosis enables patients to take more control over the next phase of their lives. The desire to know whether or not you have Alzheimer's disease makes the use of blood biomarkers so relevant, it is also the gateway to treatment.
A blood test is also relatively inexpensive and versatile. Previously, only specialized clinics could do a proper analysis and offer a diagnosis via a blood test. Swedish research, presented at the AD/PD™ conference in March 2023, has shown that biomarkers can be more reliable than the analysis of a primary care physician.
In addition, the blood test is much less stressful for the patient than the current method. Currently, Alzheimer's is diagnosed through the analysis of cerebrospinal fluid, acquired through an invasive lumbar puncture or via an expensive tau PET scan. It is believed that both of these methods will soon be less necessary in the diagnosis of Alzheimer's.
Guidelines encourage biomarker-based diagnosis
The new guidelines were developed by an international committee of practitioners and researchers on behalf of the Alzheimer's Association and the National Institute on Aging. The new approach to Alzheimer's diagnosis is also relevant and gaining momentum because some targeted therapies, such as lecanemab, against Alzheimer's have already been approved in the US. Currently, these drugs are subject to the EMA review in the EU.
Alzheimer's was previously defined by identifying brain pathology and cognitive decline with which the disease manifested itself, but per the new guideline, it is diagnosed using biomarkers. More biomarkers with excellent diagnostic performance have been developed and clinically validated in recent years and more are imminent.
- This press release was originally published on the Amsterdam University Medical Centers website