New research published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) suggests that blood tests could be used to detect Alzheimer's disease a full 10 years before it is clinically diagnosed.
The study authors found that the blood test could measure the brain's insulin resistance, which is a symptom of Alzheimer's. Early detection could delay the disease and slow patients' mental decline, Time reports.
The researchers froze blood samples from Alzheimer's patients up to 10 years before they were diagnosed. The levels of IRS-1, an insulin receptor, in the patients' blood indicated which patients had Alzheimer's disease.
The findings are still preliminary — the study used a limited sample size, and the blood test isn't available for public use. The study will "need to be replicated in a larger sample and expanded upon," study author Ed Goetzl told Time. But the researchers are hopeful that the study holds promise for detecting Alzheimer's disease and treating patients.