Scientists have developed a blood test that can detect Alzheimer's proteins that build up in the brain up to 20 years before symptoms of the disease appear, a new study reveals.
The test, created by researchers at Washington University St Louis, boasts 94 percent accuracy at predicting the devastating brain disease, they report.
Alzheimer's has no cure, and the only approved treatment so far only helps to slow down disease's progression if it's given early on.
So a blood test that can diagnose the disease decades before memory loss begins might help give people years of quality life back that they would otherwise have lost.
A new blood test for Alzheimer's disease can detect the disease with 94 percent accuracy up to 20 years ahead of when symptoms appear, a new study suggests
On average, Alzheimer's sufferers only live four to eight years after diagnosis.
During that time, decline may be a slow and steady plod that drags on or it may happen suddenly - a dramatic plunge into confusion, dependence, isolation and fear.
For whatever number of years a person lives with Alzheimer's, there are seven stages to the disease, ranging from no clinical impairment to very severe cognitive decline.
People are commonly diagnosed during the disease's third stage, which is marked by mild cognitive decline that becomes apparent to people who have long known the person, such as family members and primary care physicians.
If the disease is caught in its mild to moderate stages, there area handful of drugs that can help slow down the progressive loss of memory and reduce behavioral changes like agitation.
But past these earlier stages, there's little that can be done for the mind.
Instead, medications for moderate to severe Alzheimer's mostly make patients easier to care for, preserving the mot basic functions - such as using the bathroom on their own - but often only for mere months.
This year alone, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are expected to spend $2.3 billion on Alzheimer's research of all kinds. Much of this budget will go to moonshot studies in search of a cure.
But until one is found, early diagnosis is the only hope to give tens of millions of