Scans, Blood Tests in Alzheimer Disease Prevention: Howard Fillit, MD

The founding executive director of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation commented on the potential to detect patients at-risk for Alzheimer disease at an earlier age. [WATCH TIME: 4 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 4 minutes

“We're starting to get towards this precision medicine where we can do what the cancer field calls a ‘liquid biopsy,’and then tailor treatmentsinitially, like cancer,of course, into clinical trials, and eventually into patient care. That day, if we thought about it 5 years ago, would have been a pipe dream.But today, that day of diagnosis and classifying patients according to their pathophysiology is already here, or it is on the horizon—we can see it.”

Identifying people who are at risk for Alzheimer disease and introducing preventive measures years ahead of symptom development did not seem possible years ago. However, with new blood tests and scans filling the market, the ‘impossible’ has the potential to become a reality. In conversation with NeurologyLive®, Howard Fillit, MD, founding executive director of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, commented on revolutionary PET tracers, including 18F-florbetapir (Amyvid) and other PET amyloid scans, which identify those patients that are already starting to develop the disease 10-15 years before they develop symptoms.

As those scans are expensive, and can be invasive with an intravenous infusion, Fillit also spoke on the potential of blood tests, which are much less expensive and performed like routine tests with additional tubes. This has changed clinical care again, as health care providers can assess someone with mild memory systems and determine whether they have Alzheimer disease through their blood and general clinical evaluation. Additional blood tests are also measuring other pathways such as micro RNAs, exosomes, and inflammatory biomarkers, Fillit said, moving the field closer towards precision medicine.