Jonathan Graff-Radford, MD: Blood Tests as a Diagnostic Innovation in Alzheimer Disease

September 30, 2020

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The neurologist at Mayo Clinic detailed promising diagnostic tools, including the revelation of blood tests in patients with Alzheimer disease.

"Patients often don’t want to undergo a lumbar puncture. But a blood test is something that people are really used to from a screening perspective and can become a game-changer.”

Distinguishing Alzheimer disease (AD) from other neurodegenerative disorders, including different types of dementias, has been a top priority within the community for multiple decades. The surge of research on blood biomarkers, including P-tau217 and 181, amyloid beta (Aß) 42/40, and neurofilament light chain (NfL) through blood tests have helped AD specialists better understand the pathology of the disease and thus diagnose it at earlier stages.

This year has seen a multitude of studies delve into blood tests and biomarkers in general. Results from 2 studies presented virtually at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2020 meeting revealed that blood p-tau217 levels could distinguish Alzheimer disease (AD) from other neurodegenerative disorders as compared to other established diagnostic methods, and was also closely linked to the buildup of amyloid plaques in the brain as measured by positron emission tomography (PET) scans.

Jonathan Graff-Radford, MD, neurologist, Mayo Clinic, is very high on the potential of these blood biomarkers, and claims it is the most important research development in the past decade. In an interview with NeurologyLive, Graff-Radford discusses a few of the most promising diagnostic innovations, with an emphasis on blood tests leading the charge.