Memory test and blood sample: early Alzheimer's diagnostics?

Friday, 26 April, 2024

Memory test and blood sample: early Alzheimer's diagnostics?

A new study at the University of Gothenburg is testing the potential for a digital memory test and a blood sample to identify early Alzheimer’s disease.

If this combination of the tools works to detect early signs of disease in the general population, the hope is that they will be used in primary care in the future to follow individuals over time and identify Alzheimer’s with greater certainty and much earlier than is often the case today.

The REAL AD study will include over 100 healthcare centres, and is now inviting participants to sign up. It will examine people aged 50–80 who do not have a diagnosis of dementia.

Principal investigators are the University of Gothenburg and the Västra Götaland Region, VGR, which represents a model region for Swedish health care. All care centres within VGR Närhälsan, one of the largest primary care providers in Sweden, are included in the study, together with some additional sampling sites.

Study participants will receive all information and instructions via a digital study portal, available in Swedish, English, Finnish and Arabic. Memory and thinking ability will be tested at home using digital tools for three months. Participants will then be asked to provide a blood sample.

The study is led by Michael Schöll, professor at Gothenburg University and research group leader, in close collaboration with the co-investigators and a team of project leaders.

“REAL AD is a seriously ambitious project, and it has been an enormous challenge to democratise the study design. It must reflect both urban and rural areas, be accessible to as many participants as possible and involve the entire VGR Närhälsan, which means that even the most remote healthcare centres must be able to participate in terms of sample handling and transport,” he said.

“The need for earlier diagnosis is widely accepted, also in view of the new treatments that are around the corner. Many, if not most, diagnoses are made in primary care in Sweden, so diagnostics must be strengthened there, and knowledge is needed about whether it will be feasible to screen for Alzheimer’s in the general population. In the short term, society does not have the resources to establish a lot of new specialised memory clinics.”

The study needs at least 3000 participants but has capacity to enrol up to 10,000 volunteers. It is accompanied by information via Närhälsan and several other marketing efforts.

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