A new blood test for Alzheimer’s disease has been developed under the leadership of researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. The method is based on measuring a specific variant of tau protein in ordinary blood samples, which makes the test relatively simple and cheap to perform.
The research behind the test was headed by Kaj Blennow, Professor of Clinical Neurochemistry, and Henrik Zetterberg, Professor of Neurochemistry, at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg. The results are published in an article in The Lancet Neurology.
Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by two pathological changes in the tissue of the nervous system. One is the formation of extracellular clumps of a protein called beta-amyloid. The other is neurofibrils, composed of tau protein, that have stuck together in tiny lesions (“neurofibrillary tangles”) in the brain neurons through a biochemical process known as phosphorylation.
The newly developed method is based on measurement of phosphorylated tau — specifically, the P-tau181 variant — in ordinary blood samples, performed with an ultrasensitive method known as Single Molecule Array (Simoa). Simoa can measure considerably lower levels of protein biomarkers than other analytical methods.