UK memory clinics to trial blood tests for dementia diagnosis

Memory clinics across the UK are set to initiate trials utilising blood tests for the diagnosis of dementia, aiming to facilitate early access to care, support, and potential new drug treatments.

A joint research effort by University College London and the University of Oxford will engage approximately 5,000 volunteers over a five-year period to study blood tests for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Presently, a significant portion of dementia patients remain undiagnosed, with only a small percentage undergoing expensive ‘gold standard’ tests such as PET brain scans or spinal lumbar punctures.

The Oxford team will assess various blood tests, potentially offering a more cost-effective and accessible means for early detection of dementia. These tests aim to identify biomarkers for Alzheimer’s as well as other forms of dementia, including vascular and frontotemporal dementia.

Dr. Vanessa Raymont from the University of Oxford emphasises the importance of including diverse demographics in the study to ensure real-world applicability.

The University College London team focuses on the biomarker p-tau217, which may indicate levels of amyloid and tau in the brain, with the goal of increasing Alzheimer’s diagnosis rates.

Jonathan Schott, professor of neurology at UCL, underscores the significance of early and accurate diagnosis, particularly in anticipation of potential new treatments. Two drugs showing promise in slowing Alzheimer’s progression are currently under consideration by UK regulatory bodies.

The Blood Biomarker Challenge, funded by various organisations including Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK, aims to advance diagnostic capabilities for dementia, addressing a critical healthcare challenge in the UK.

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