A Blood Test for Alzheimer’s Disease: Progress, Challenges, and Recommendations

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Kiddle, SJ 
Voyle, N 
Dobson, R 

Ever since the discovery of APOE ɛ4 around 25 years ago, researchers have been excited about the potential of a blood test for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Since then researchers have looked for genetic, protein, metabolite, and/or gene expression markers of AD and related phenotypes. However, no blood test for AD is yet being used in the clinical setting. We first review the trends and challenges in AD blood biomarker research, before giving our personal recommendations to help researchers overcome these challenges. While some degree of consistency and replication has been seen across independent studies, several high-profile studies have seemingly failed to replicate. Partly due to academic incentives, there is a reluctance in the field to report predictive ability, to publish negative findings, and to independently replicate the work of others. If this can be addressed, then we will know sooner whether a blood test for AD or related phenotypes with clinical utility can be developed.

Alzheimer’s disease, blood proteins, blood tests, cohort studies, data reporting, genetics, gene expression, metabolomics, research design
Journal Title
Journal of Alzheimer's Disease
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IOS Press
Medical Research Council (MR/P021573/1)
SJK was supported by an MRC Career Development Award in Biostatistics (MR/L011859/1). Nicola Voyle is funded by the Alzheimer’s Society. The authors acknowledge infrastructure support from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health. The research leading to these results has received support from the Innovative Medicines Initiative Joint Undertaking under grant agreement no 115372, resources of which are composed of financial contribution from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7-/2007-2013) and in-kind contribution from EFPIA companies. This work was supported by awards to establish the Farr Institute of Health Informatics Research, London, from the Medical Research Council, Arthritis Research UK, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Chief Scientist Office, Economic and Social Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, National Institute for Health Research, National Institute for Social Care and Health Research, and Wellcome Trust (grant MR/K006584/1).