New Blood Test Claiming to Help Diagnose Alzheimer's Disease Is Now for Sale

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The test, from C2N Diagnostics in St. Louis, has not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but it’s being sold under more general rules.

A company has started selling a blood test they said they believe can help diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, but some people worry about the repercussions of receiving such monumental news if it happens to be false.

The test, from C2N Diagnostics in St. Louis, has not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The test works by measuring two types of amyloid particles plus various forms of a protein that reveal whether someone has a gene that raises risk for the disease. It’s reportedly not to be used on people without other symptoms, but is aimed at older people who have been having “thinking issues,” the Associated Press reported

Tammy Maida told the AP that the test could have spared her from endless visits to doctors from practitioners who kept saying that her symptoms were linked to depression, anxiety or menopause. A $5,000 brain scan last year finally revealed she had Alzheimer's, she told the AP. 

Alzheimer’s impacts 5 million people in the United States alone. People are usually diagnosed only after they begin exhibiting symptoms, such as memory loss, as well as a buildup of the protein beta-amyloid in the brain, which is detected currently by a PET scan. Many people aren’t able to afford PET scans, however, because they aren’t usually covered by insurance, the AP reported.

C2N Diagnostics is hoping to make an Alzheimer's diagnosis more accessible. The test, which is only able to be ordered by doctors, is currently going for $1,250, but the company offers discounts based on income, the AP wrote. It is available in most U.S. states and has just been cleared for sale in Europe, according to the company.

Dr. David Holtzman and Dr. Randall Bateman of Washington University School of Medicine, two of C2N Diagnostics’ founders, said they don’t think the test is that much different from current testing, other than it not being a brain scan.

Dr. Eliezer Masliah, neuroscience chief at the U.S. National Institute on Aging, told the AP that the government funded some of the work leading to the test, as well as other blood tests.

“I would be cautious about interpreting any of these things,” he said. “We’re encouraged, we’re interested, we’re funding this work, but we want to see results.”