A new blood test could detect with 90 % accuracy whether a person will develop Alzheimer’s or mild cognitive impairment three years in advance, according to a study released by the journal Nature Medicine.

The research, conducted by a group of experts from the Georgetown University Medical Center in the Washington DC, found that some changes observed in the blood may mean that the patient is suffering from Alzheimer’s in its earliest stage.

Scientists examined for five years over 70,525 healthy people and identified ten main phospholipids which could be used to predict whether patients will develop mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease.

After several comparisons, the scientists saw that those who developed Alzheimer’s or mild cognitive impairment had lower levels of these ten phospholipids.

This is the first study that has shown differences in blood biomarkers in people with Alzheimer’s before symptoms appeared and patients who did not develop the disease.

Experts believe that this could allow for the development of therapies to treat the disease when it is still at an early stage and therapy would be more effective to slow or prevent symptoms.

By measuring the presence of ten blood components, the scientific team achieved 90 % accuracy for detecting whether the participants in the study suffer from mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s.

According to Howard Federoff, one of the study authors, these blood tests offer the potential to identify individuals who are at risk of progressive cognitive decline and can change the way that patients, their families and physicians manage the disease.

The preclinical stage of the disease offers a window of opportunity that could change the course of it. Biomarkers like ours that define this asymptomatic period are critical to the development and successful application of these therapies.

While more research is necessary to confirm the validity of these findings, a blood test to identify people at risk for Alzheimer’s would be a real step forward in the investigation.