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Scientists from Washington State University have come up with a new method that can be used to test for Alzheimer’s disease that is significantly more effective than the existing blood test-based method.

The new method is still in its early stages of development, but so far, it has demonstrated 10 times more sensitivity than the conventional method. Initial findings are promising, and it could facilitate early detection of Alzheimer’s disease soon. The disease affects about 5.8 million, and researchers expect the number to reach 14 million by 2050.

The new method of detecting the disease leverages an artificial enzyme to detect the biomarkers linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Professor Dan (Annie) Du was the lead researcher in the study, and the findings have been published in the Research science journal.

Why the newly developed method of testing Alzheimer’s could be a game-changer

Doctors usually observe symptoms to determine whether a patient has Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, this reactive approach means that most of the patients have already suffered too much brain damage by being diagnosed. There are other approaches, such as spinal fluid testing, but it is a highly invasive procedure.

CT scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and other imaging technologies are commonly used to confirm Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis. Unfortunately, these are more useful for detecting degenerative mental illness when it is in advanced stages. There is a blood test called ELISA, which is short for ‘enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.’ It uses a natural enzyme that changes color in biomarkers for various diseases such as Lyme disease and HIV. However, it does not work for Alzheimer’s disease because the blood’s biomarkers are too small to be detected.

WSU scientists tapped into single-atom architecture to develop an artificial enzyme that is just as efficient in biomarker detection as natural enzymes. The artificial enzyme can efficiently detect Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers in a fast and efficient manner. This makes it a promising candidate for detecting the disease. Additionally, it can help facilitate early detection, which means that treatment can commence before the disease causes damage to healthy brain cells.