A new spinal tap test—which one unaffiliated researcher has called a “bull’s-eye of perfect predictive accuracy”—can be 100 % accurate in identifying patients who are on their way to developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study published today in the “Archives of Neurology” journal. The study measured the Amyloid and Tau protein levels in patients’ spinal fluid and detected an abnormal pattern present in 90% of subjects who showed symptoms of the disease. 5.3 million people currently have Alzheimer’s and it’s the 7th leading cause of death, but its research field has remained stagnant for decades and researchers hope this latest finding, which supports the high accuracy of such tests, will reinvigorate the field. Identifying a predictive test is crucial for a disease that doctors now unanimously agree can begin decades before symptoms show, but should doctors offer commercially available spinal tap tests for a disease with no currently known treatment? Would you want to know? Madeleine Brand fills in for Patt and talks with the study’s lead investigator.
Michael Weiner, principal investigator on this study and for the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI); he’s also a Professor of Medicine, Radiology, Psychiatry, and Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)