AUSTRALIANS fearing the early onset of Alzheimer's could be in luck with scientists on the cusp of a new blood test that could detect the insidious brain disease.
Even better, the blood test is said to be 90 per cent accurate in predicting the onset of Alzheimer's!
A team of Australian and Japanese scientists believe they made the revolutionary medical breakthrough after uncovering a new form of detection for the disease - the build-up of an abnormal protein, known as beta-amyloid, in the brain.
Melbourne-based professor Colin Masters said the proposed test can pick up the beginning of the disease before any outward warning signs begin to show.
"By the time you hit 60 to 70 about 30 per cent of the population are showing signs of this protein aggregating in their brain and that can be picked up now with this blood test," Professor Masters, a Laureate professor at the Florey Institute, told reporters.
The research, based on a study involving 252 Australians and 121 Japanese patients and published in the journal Nature, could eradicate the archaic, invasive and painful procedures that exist today to test for Alzheimer's.
Professor Masters, who has spent most of his life researching a test for the disease, said techniques to identify rouge peptides in a patient's blood plasma was more accurate than PET brain scans and lumbar punctures.
"I can see in the future, five years from now, where people have a regular checkup every five years after age 55 or 60 to determine whether they are on the Alzheimer's pathway or not," Professor Masters said.
The proposed blood test could also help scientists find new ways of battling the crippling effects of Alzheimer's.
While up to 40 per cent of Australians over 70 are considered at risk of Alzheimer's, pharmaceuticals have barley put a dent in tackling the root causes of the disease.
"If a person knows they are on this pathway well before the onset of any cognitive impairment some would want to alter their lifestyles," Professor Masters said.