Wondering where to get an Alzheimer's blood test? Currently, three brands are commercially available in the U.S. Here’s a quick look at where to get them and how much they cost.
The gold-standard methods for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease are lumbar punctures and PET brain scans. But these methods can be uncomfortable — not to mention expensive and hard to access. Thus, there is a great deal of research being done into easier, more accessible diagnostics — including blood tests.
Blood tests and computerized cognitive tests provide a proxy of amyloid levels in the brain, are quicker to administer, and may allow for more people to be screened for the disease. As of September 2022, there are three commercially available Alzheimer’s blood tests for U.S. citizens, though only one of them may be covered by private insurance. At the moment, none of them are covered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Blood tests for Alzheimer’s
PrecivityADTM by C2N Diagnostics
This is one of the first commercially available blood tests designed to measure the ratio of two forms of beta-amyloid proteins called Aβ42/40 in the blood as well as determine which form of the APOE gene you carry.
The APOE4 gene increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, though not for American Indians. A less common form called APOE2 may provide protection against developing Alzheimer’s. As early as last year, this blood test was used in large clinical trials to help screen for eligible participants. Another study conducted in collaboration with C2N Diagnostics found that Aβ42/40 performed equally well as a diagnostic in white people as well as in Black populations.
It is available across 49 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The company is working toward obtaining certification to permit providing the test in New York. These tests can be ordered by clinicians directly from the company’s website.
Simoa p-Tau181 test by Quanterix
This blood test was publicly launched at the end of July 2022, providing a measurement of the levels of a protein called p-tau181 in the blood. Higher levels of this protein are linked to beta-amyloid pathology. But a 2022 study found that p-tau181 may be inaccurate as a diagnostic biomarker for Black people.
According to a spokesperson from Quanterix, the test is not currently covered by insurance, however, the company believes that there will be a strong rationale for coverage in the future.
The test can be ordered by a physician through the company’s website.
The spokesperson declined to provide a price for the test.
Quest-AD Detect by Quest Diagnostics
Like PrecivityADTM, this blood test measures the Aβ42/40 ratio in the blood. This test was launched onto the market in May 2022, at a price of $500. It can be ordered directly by your physician. Unlike the other tests, this diagnostic is covered by certain in-network health providers for many insurance health plans.
To test or not to test, that is the question
Blood tests will allow for more routine screening that could potentially spot the development of the disease faster.
An early diagnosis allows more time for people to adopt healthy lifestyle changes and more time for family and financial planning. Their diagnostic power is likely to improve in the future and could become more affordable or widely covered by private insurance and Medicare.
As scientists learn more about the disease and its risk factors, we could find better biomarkers for the disease.