Early and Accurate Diagnosis

Categories: Need to Know, Optimizing Brain Health, Research|By |Published On: October 11, 2022|

Biomarker testing empowers people living with Alzheimer’s disease.

People with concerns about their brain health can now access a biomarker test to get accurate answers sooner.

“The Alzheimer’s disease biomarker test can help doctors accurately diagnose the disease even when only mild symptoms are present,” says Dr. Mari DeMarco, a clinical chemist at Providence Health Care and a clinical associate professor in the department of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of British Columbia.

Dr. Mari DeMarco

In July 2021, the Alzheimer’s disease biomarker test became available to all Canadians through referral by a specialist, like a neurologist or geriatrician, who uses the results, in combination with other assessments, to determine whether someone might have Alzheimer's disease based on biomarkers that are found in the cerebral spinal fluid that surrounds the patient’s brain.

“This is not a screening test for dementia,” says DeMarco. “The test is not used to screen healthy people to see if they will one day develop dementia. Instead, this testing is for someone who has signs and symptoms that a doctor deems are consistent with Alzheimer's disease and where the doctor believes testing would help arrive at a diagnosis.”

"Through our IMPACT-AD study, we are getting direct feedback from patients and also their care partners, and from them we are learning the value of early diagnosis in their journey."
– Dr. Mari DeMarco

DeMarco is also the principal investigator of the IMPACT-AD study, leading a team of researchers from across Canada to use the Alzheimer’s disease biomarker test. Launched in 2020, the study first worked with participants from British Columbia to begin to develop a comprehensive understanding of how testing impacts medical and personal decision-making, and health care costs. The research teams will engage participants Canada-wide before the study concludes in late spring 2022.

“Through our IMPACT-AD study, we are getting direct feedback from patients and also their care partners, and from them we are learning the value of early diagnosis in their journey,” says DeMarco.

Photo courtesy of Canva.

After undergoing Alzheimer’s disease biomarker testing, study participants are invited to share their experiences and recommendations with researchers to improve the diagnostic process for future Canadians experiencing brain health concerns.

At an individual level, the conclusive results delivered by the Alzheimer’s disease biomarker test can decrease anxiety about memory concerns and may empower people with Alzheimer’s disease to plan for the future. Early and accurate diagnosis can also promote open communication about brain health changes and support those impacted to become advocates for themselves and others living with dementia.

More broadly, study results will be used to inform positive change in the health-care system to improve care and support for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and their families.


Learn more about the IMPACT-AD study.

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