SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Alzheimer’s, a disease that can be physically debilitating, as well as emotionally devastating for those around the patient, affects 5 million Americans.
Right now, the gold standard for testing for this disease is a PET scan, which can cost $5,000 and usually isn’t covered by insurance.
That means a lot of people wait and wonder what’s happening to them without an official diagnosis.
Now, C2N Diagnostics out of St. Louis has developed a blood test, but it’s a development shrouded in controversy. For one, the test is not yet approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“It’s not ideal,” said Elizabeth Edgerly, the executive director of the Northern California-Northern Nevada chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
“Ultimately, we need to see the evidence that the test will do what it’s supposed to do,” she continued. “Still, even with the hesitancy and uncertainty about it passing approval with the FDA, it is exciting, to be sure, to see something that has the potential to measure amyloid in the brain of a living individual so they don’t have to have the PET scan.”
This new blood test can only be ordered by a doctor for those 60 years and older. It’s not covered by insurance, either, but is $1,250 instead of $5,000, with some discounts being offered based on income.
However, it’s not yet available in California, Edgerly said, due to regulations.
But if the test works as intended, Edgerly said, it could be “game-changing for everyone.”
“What happens currently for so many individuals — and I imagine a lot of us have seen this in loved ones — is that it can take a very long time to get a diagnosis,” she said.
For those who are caregivers or who may have Alzheimer’s, Edgerly said the Alzheimer’s Association has a 24/7 hotline with classes, groups and research materials on alz.org.
“You are not in this alone,” she said.