(CNN) — Recent studies have found that Alzheimer’s may be the nation’s third-most deadly killer, and more Americans die from the disease than previously thought. Now researchers have announced they have discovered a new blood test that predicts if a person will develop this debilitating illness at an earlier age.
It is estimated that as many as five million Americans may have Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America also predicts that number will rise over the next decade because people are living longer. As of now, there is no cure.
Now researchers, led by a team from Georgetown Medical Center have developed a blood test that they say can predict with greater than 90 percent accuracy if a healthy person will develop Alzheimer’s disease within three years.
If confirmed, the study, which appears in next month’s issue of Nature Medicine, is the first to unveil a blood based test for diagnosing Alzheimer’s in its earlier stages. Not only would people be able to know if they will develop the illness, the test could be used to design new treatments for the disease.
“The test enables the identification of high risk people. You could then do the research to ask do we now have a new therapy that could arise and delay symptom onset,” said Dr. Howard Federoff, Georgetown University School of Medicine.
The test identifies 10 lipids, or fats, in the blood that could predict disease onset. It could be ready for use in clinical trials in a few years.