Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
April 26, 2024 ·  4 min read

New Study: Blood Test Can Predict Dementia 10 Years Before Official Diagnosis

In a groundbreaking discovery, scientists have found that a simple blood test can accurately predict the onset of dementia up to 10 years before an official diagnosis. This has the potential to revolutionize the way dementia is detected and managed, offering patients and their families more time to seek support and plan for the future. The study, published by researchers at the University of Warwick in England and Fudan University in China, analyzed blood samples from over 52,000 healthy volunteers. Let’s delve into the details of this remarkable breakthrough.

The Current Challenges in Dementia Diagnosis

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Dementia is a devastating condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Currently, diagnosing dementia is a complex and time-consuming process that involves invasive procedures, such as lumbar punctures and PET scans, as well as memory tests. These methods are not only expensive but also place a substantial burden on healthcare systems. As a result, many individuals are only diagnosed when the disease has already progressed significantly, limiting the effectiveness of any treatment or support that could have been provided.

Read More: 10 Ways Photos Help With Dementia Care

The Study and its Findings

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In the largest study of its kind, researchers used artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze 1,463 proteins in the blood samples of the volunteers. The researchers from the University of Warwick in England and Fudan University in China examined blood samples from 52,645 healthy volunteers from the UK Biobank genetic database. The samples were taken between 2006 and 2010. Over the ten- to 15-year follow-up period, around 1,400 of the volunteers developed dementia. From their analysis, they identified eleven specific proteins that were highly associated with the future development of dementia. Remarkably, with the inclusion of additional risk factors such as age, sex, education, and genetics, the accuracy of the dementia prediction was as high as 90%. (1)

Significance of the Discovered Proteins

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Among the proteins identified in the study, four stand out as strong biomarkers for various forms of dementia. These proteins are GFAP, NEFL, GDF15, and LTBP2. GFAP, in particular, has shown great potential as a reliable predictor of dementia. Increased levels of GFAP have been linked to inflammation, a common symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. By measuring the levels of these proteins in the blood, researchers can detect the early signs of inflammation and other changes that occur in the brain long before clinical symptoms appear.

Read More: 7 Strategies When Caring for Someone With Dementia

Implications for Early Detection and Treatment

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The discovery of these proteins as biomarkers for dementia opens up the possibility of using blood tests as a widespread screening tool for early diagnosis. Early detection is crucial in managing dementia effectively, as it allows patients to access appropriate treatment options, participate in clinical trials, and make necessary lifestyle changes. Additionally, the development of new drugs, such as lecanemab and donanemab, which have shown promise in slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, further emphasizes the need for early-stage diagnosis.“Based on this study, it does seem likely that blood tests will be developed that can predict risk for developing dementia over the next 10 years, although individuals at higher risk often have difficulty knowing how to respond,” said Dr. Suzanne Schindler, an Alzheimer’s researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, who was not involved in the research. “This study did not include clinically available blood tests for Alzheimer disease, which likely would even better predict development of dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease,” (2)

Challenges and Further Validation

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While the findings of this study are incredibly promising, it is important to note that further validation is needed before these biomarkers can be widely used for screening purposes. Additional research and larger-scale studies are required to confirm the accuracy and reliability of the blood test. However, this discovery represents a significant step forward in the field of dementia research and offers hope for improved diagnostic methods in the future.

A Brighter Future for Dementia Patients

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The ability to predict the onset of dementia a decade before an official diagnosis has the potential to change the lives of millions of individuals worldwide. This groundbreaking study has uncovered specific proteins in the blood that can accurately identify the risk of dementia and allow for early interventions. The use of a simple blood test would replace invasive and costly procedures, providing a more accessible and effective means of diagnosing this debilitating condition. As further research is conducted and these biomarkers are validated, we move closer to a future where early intervention and improved treatment options can significantly enhance the lives of those affected by dementia.

Read More: Dutch town was built just for people with dementia and it helps uphold their sense of independence


  1. Plasma proteomic profiles predict future dementia in healthy adults.” Nature. Yu Guo, et al. February 12, 2024.
  2. Proteins may predict who will get dementia 10 years later, study finds.” Reuters. Julie Steenhuysen. February 12, 2024.