Taiwanese researchers announce world's first blood test for Alzheimer's disease

PHOTO: Taiwanese researchers announce world's first blood test for Alzheimer's disease

TAIPEI, Taiwan - National Taiwan Normal University Institute of Electro-optical Science and Technology researchers and National Taiwan University Hospital's Neurology Department announced the creation of the world's first blood test for Alzheimer's disease yesterday at an academic symposium.

The research team made up of NTNU's chair professor Hung Heng-e, associate professors Hsieh Chen-chieh and Liao Shu-hsien, NTUH Neurology Department Dr. Chiu Ming-chang and other researchers, used ImmuoMagnetic Reduction technology to create the blood test.

The test is said to be able to move up detection of the disease by at least eight to ten years, often the earliest stage of Alzheimer's, which is the mild cognitive decline phase. It also reports an 85-per cent accuracy and requires a short testing procedure, at around 5 hours, the team said.

The research team designed the pathogen tests for the disease with nano metal powder, and hopes to replace the traditional invasive testing method of collecting Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF). Nano metal powder as the chemical agent saves time and effort, the team reported.

The current testing method for Alzheimer's disease requires taking CSF, Hsieh said, pointing out CSF collection is a high-risk process, as it can possibly result in paralysis. It is also time consuming and usually entails a weeklong testing procedure, explained Hsieh.

Blood Test on Clinical Trial

Taida , Jen-ai, Shuang-he, and En Chu Kong hospitals are currently conducting clinical trial use of the new blood test.

Chen Jui-hsing, director of Taipei City Hospital Jen-ai Branch's Neurology Department, who participated in the research, said that the programme uses a nucleonic method to detect whether a patient's blood contains certain chemicals that are often used as indicators for Alzheimer's disease.

Possible Catalyst for Depression?

The blood test is a breakthrough, as it can detect Alzheimer's in its earliest stages, yet early discovery of the disease has raised ethical debates in other countries.

The biggest obstacle for Alzheimer's is in its treatment. If used correctly, tests can discover potential signs for the disease as early as eight to ten years before it develops into a more serious form, Chen explained.

"Patients at this point are often still working, living a relatively normal life. By knowing they could possibly develop Alzheimer's in ten years, the patients could end up becoming depressed instead" said Chen.