How to test for Alzheimer& with a home fingerstick test


A home fingerstick test for Alzheimer’s could be on the horizon, experts say.

Researchers at the University of Exeter have designed a device that can analyze small molecules in the blood to detect health problems and diseases.

Their system can already inspect a single drop of blood to see if someone is suffering from Long Covid.

The team expects to have a similar test for childhood allergies ready next year, and to be able to use the device to monitor menopause, fertility and healthy aging by 2025.

And they even believe it could one day be used to spot early signs of Alzheimer’s or predict a person’s individual risk of developing the devastating disease — at the price of a pregnancy test.

The team is developing a wearable device that could one day be used at home to test for allergies, menopause and even early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.

The test, developed by a company called Attomarker, requires just 10 microliters of blood – 3,000 times less than the 30ml of blood normally needed for routine hospital checkups.

It works by using printed gold nanoparticles on a series of sensor spots.

The blood sample flows over the array and the spots are illuminated from below. The gold nanoparticles scatter the light and this pattern changes based on the biomarkers present in the blood, yielding a result in just seven minutes.

The array can scan up to twenty biomarkers – ‘medical signals’ – from the same small sample.

The tests are currently being conducted on a tabletop device, but the team is developing a portable device that can be used at home.

Other potential uses include testing for sepsis, liver health, hepatitis and diabetes.

One way the test could work for Alzheimer’s disease is to measure the levels of a protein called tau, which is notorious for being ‘confused’ in the brains of patients suffering from dementia.

It is already known that measuring tau levels can help predict the onset and progression of the disease.

But that currently requires expensive brain scans or invasive lumbar punctures.

Detecting signs of the disease early can mean that patients can get the help they need and provide reassurance to friends and family.

The device, which the team is designing for use with an iPhone, is expected to cost around £300.

Each test would then cost around £10-15.

Andrew Shaw, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Exeter and CEO of Attomarker, said: ‘You have something like a laboratory in your hand.

“I want the revolution.”

He said there are currently nine different proteins — seven linked to tau — that can indicate whether someone has early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

“I have to make sure the test works,” he added. “Would I say it would predict Alzheimer’s disease?” That’s the future.

“We talked about it having to be cheap. When I put the production line together, that’s where I’ll put the test (each individual test) on the market for £10 to £15 – the cost of a pregnancy test.’

He explained that an iPhone app linked to the device could analyze the data and interpret the results.

“I think we need to extend our quality of life,” he said. “There are two ways to die: dysregulation, like cancer, or decrepitation as you get older.

“And however you want to make sure you have equal health until you’re 80 before those two death processes get the better of you.

“And I want to maximize time with my family.”

The device was presented at the British Science Festival in Exeter.