In America alone an estimated 5.7 million people are living with Alzheimer's and many go undiagnosed and untreated until later stages appear. Early detection is possibly the best weapon in the fight against any disease or disorder. Often times, however, the tests get taken and/or are only accurate when symptoms are already an issue.
In the future this may be solved with a series of blood tests, taken over time, which looks for an abnormal increase of a certain protein that exists in the bloodstream. A recent study involving more than 20 scientists and researchers in The Nature Medicine Journal report that, by looking for abnormal increases in the protein NfL, (Neurofilament Light Chain) could be an indication of Alzheimer's later in life. While this method calls for several test over time it has the potential to be up to 10 years more accurate than the NfL level tests we have today. Over 400 people took part in the study with many unaffected family members serving as control subjects. Those who had the Alzheimer's genetic mutation tested with notably higher levels of NfL.
While the increased levels of NfL can be attributed to other maladies and brain damages, the amazing news is these increases can be detected up to 16 years before symptoms show. Once other factors can be eliminated this can give a large amount of time to create a comprehensive care plan and minimize issues while improving the quality of lives of the afflicted and their families and friends.