SYDNEY, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- Aussie scientists in collaboration with researchers from Japan have announced on Thursday, the world's first accurate blood test for Alzheimer's disease.
Capable of detecting the illness up to 20 years before any symptoms occur at an accuracy of over 90 percent, the test identifies the build-up of a protein called amyloid-beta, which is an early indicator of the disease.
Up until now, the only way to determine if a patient had Alzheimer's was by highly invasive and expensive methods, including brain scans and lumbar punctures.
But the breakthrough by the University of Melbourne's Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health will mean diagnosing the disease will become far easier.
"In the first instance, it will be an invaluable tool in increasing the speed of screening potential patients for new drug trials," Professor Colin Masters from the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health said.
"Progress in developing new therapeutic strategies for Alzheimer's disease has been disappointingly slow."
"New drugs are urgently required, and the only way to do that is to speed up whole process."
At the moment due to the long time spans involved in pharmaceutical studies, companies require extremely accurate predictions of who is most at risk before going ahead with trials.
This means rigorous patient selection is essential, and with the new test, the process should improve exponentially.
According Dementia around 530,000 people in Australian are expected to suffer from Alzheimer's by 2025 and if no breakthroughs are found, that figure is predicted to double to over 1,100,000 by 2056.
Worldwide the illness costs 818 billion U.S. dollars per year, with 20-40 of the population over 70 considered to be "at risk" of developing the disease at some future point.