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First direct-to-patient screening test for Alzheimer’s disease launched in US

The first direct-to-consumer screening test, which identifies people who are potentially at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, has been launched in the United States.

The first direct-to-consumer screening test, which identifies people who are potentially at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, has been launched in the United States.

The AD-Detect test is a simple blood test which detect abnormal levels of beta amyloid protein in the blood.

Quest Diagnostics, who developed the AD-Detect test, says it will enable people to know if they are at risk of Alzheimer’s disease, potentially years before they are even symptomatic.

Currently, the AD-Detect test, which costs $399, is only available to adults aged 18+ in the United States.

How does the AD-Detect Test work?

The AD-Detect test is a blood test which evaluates the ratio of two peptides of amyloid beta proteins, Aβ42 and Aβ40, in plasma.

Amyloid beta proteins are known to accumulate and form plaques in the brain, which are linked to the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

The test is similar to a previous screening tool rolled out by Quest, which launched for physician ordering in early 2022.

However, this new AD-Detect test is the first test available directly to patients. It can be ordered online by anyone who:

  • thinks they may have Alzheimer’s disease
  • has a family history of Alzheimer’s disease
  • has a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s disease
  • has had brain trauma or a head injury
  • and/or is experiencing memory loss or early cognitive decline.

However, even though the test is directly ordered by the patient, it still needs to be performed by a licensed physician. Those who order the test will therefore be prompted to schedule an appointment at one of 2,100 Quest Diagnostics patient service centres for a blood draw.

Test results are then made available on a secure patient portal and delivered in a clear, easy-to-read report. The patient can then discuss their results and the next steps with a licensed physician, including their own regular primary care physician.

People with early stages of Alzheimer’s disease could be recruited to clinical trials

Quest hope this new test will allow for interventions earlier in the disease process, which is likely to be more effective.

For example, behavioural changes such as exercising and socialising more are known to be most effective when initiated in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Michael K. Racke, M.D., Medical Director of Neurology, Quest Diagnostics, said the test will enable patients to take control of their health.

“We are seeing much attention on emerging therapies for Alzheimer’s disease, but with new treatment options will come the need to make screening and diagnosis more widely available. Blood tests like AD-Detect hold incredible potential to make Alzheimer’s disease risk assessment both accessible and convenient.

“We’re also seeing a push from consumers who have a desire to take more control of their health, including within more advanced areas like Alzheimer’s disease risk assessment,” he said.

The test could also help to recruit patients in the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s disease to clinical trials, therefore improving research and ultimately speeding up the time it takes to develop an effective treatment.

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