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NHS announce new 5-year Alzheimer’s trial

test tube containing blood

The NHS has announced a new study to diagnose Alzheimer's at a very early stage which can give people more time to find support and prescribe new drugs to slow down the illness.

At this stage there is no cure for the condition and patients can wait years until they are diagnosed.

Those signing up to the study will be given a simple blood test, experts say the prick in the arm may not detect Alzheimer’s every time, but will be able to show hidden physical signs that someone is living with the condition.

People with early stages of Alzheimer’s carry small traces of protein, such as tau and amyloid, which have leaked into the bloodstream which have been building up in the brain for over a decade.

The new £5 million study, which will be ongoing for the next five years, is being funded by the People’s Postcode Lottery supported by the Alzheimer's Society, Alzheimer's Research UK and the National Institute for Health and Care Research working in partnership with the UK Dementia Research Institute at University College London.

Despite there being a number of Alzheimer’s drug trials, most are tested on people with advanced stages of the illness when it is too late to treat.

Fiona Carragher, from the Alzheimer's Society, said: "Nearly four in 10 people in the UK who have dementia have not received a diagnosis. We also know that those who do have a diagnosis have often waited many months, sometimes years, to receive it.

"This means thousands of families are stuck in limbo, trying to manage symptoms and plan for the future without access to the vital care and support that a diagnosis can bring.

"New drugs targeting early-stage Alzheimer's disease are just around the corner, but without a diagnosis, people simply won't be able to access them if they are approved."

The NHS Blood Biomarker will recruit at least 1,000 NHS patients to monitor the effectiveness of the new drugs.

Dr Susan Kohlhaas, from Alzheimer's Research UK, said: "We need to move these tests out of the lab and assess their effectiveness in real-world settings like the NHS."

[ Alzheimer’s affects around six in ten people living with dementia in the UK ]

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