A major issue many Alzheimer's sufferers face is late diagnosis, as early detection is one of the best ways to ensure successful treatment.
But one Israeli company, NeuroQuest, has developed a blood test that would determine if a patient has Alzheimer's in its early stages.
"Today one of the main weaknesses in the Alzheimer's area is that patients don't find out until it's too late," Illya Budik, CEO of NeuroQuest, said. "There are many new therapies under development, and the most successful trials are showing the earlier a patient is treated, the better likelihood of responding to the treatment."
The company recently received $500,000 in funding from InterTech Group in South Carolina, which will be used to implement clinical trials at four US medical centers.
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Israel has already performed human trials, and has determined that the test has an 87 percent accuracy rate with an 85 percent specificity rate in detecting Alzheimer's and ALS. Budik explained that anything over 70 percent is medically significant.
"That gave us proof of concept for Prof. Schwartz's discovery that certain parts of the immune system are involved in protecting the central nervous system and also in healing it from neurodegenerative diseases or neural injury," Budik said.
He believes that the test could be used to detect the disease in patients, and could provide enough cause for health insurers to authorize a pricey, but highly accurate, PET scan.
"We envision that in 10 to 15 years, the Alzheimer's market will look like the cancer and heart disease market looks today," he said. "One doesn't want to find out one has heart disease if a heart attack is coming tomorrow. One wants to take medication to lower cholesterol and blood pressure at the first sign of high cholesterol so that the heart attack might not happen at all."
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The blood test will hopefully give the same early-warning to people in the initial stages of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and ALS.