New Alzheimer’s Test will help Early Diagnosis

The world’s first non-surgical diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s disease is to be unveiled in Edinburgh next month. Nymox, a Canadian company, is poised to market the urine-based test – which is designed for physicians to administer – in the UK but concern has been raised it could be a precursor to the development of a DIY dementia test.

The test uses a urine sample to measure the level of a brain protein called neural thread protein (NTP) known to be elevated in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

The AlzheimAlert test is described by its designers as the only painless urine test available to assist a physician in diagnosis.

A spokesman for Nymox said: “An accurate clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is crucial for patients and their families. It enables them to make informed social, legal and medical decisions and allows treating physicians to take advantage of new improvements in drug treatment and care.

“Even a modest delay in institutionalisation can mean huge social and financial savings. Conversely, ruling out Alzheimer’s eliminates the tremendous uncertainty and anxiety patients and their families would otherwise face and allows physicians to focus on the other, often reversible, causes of cognitive changes.

“For the health care system, diagnosis with the aid of the AlzheimAlert test represents a potentially large cost saving in terms of repeated office visits, lab tests, scans and other procedures required by the traditional methods of diagnosis.”

Maureen Thom, of Alzheimer’s Scotland, said last night: “I would agree that obtaining an accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or any other form of dementia is vital for worried individuals and their families.

“Having that diagnosis allows people to plan ahead for their future health and welfare and allows them access to a range of services and treatments but it’s also important that a range of diagnostic tests is carried out to either confirm a diagnosis of dementia or to eliminate it.”

She added: “A urine test would be easy to administer but I would be very concerned about the prospect of any kind of DIY diagnostic kit becoming available.”

Shona Robison MSP, SNP health spokeswoman, said: “It is certainly something that should be looked at as a diagnostic tool and in the long term it would probably still be best done by health professionals so that the results could be discussed with the patient in a way that is helpful.”

Latest figures show around 60,000 Scots have Alzheimer’s.