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January 4, 2021

The Future Is P-Tau—Anticipating Direct-to-Consumer Alzheimer Disease Blood Tests

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia
  • 2Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia
JAMA Neurol. Published online January 4, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2020.4835

Recent studies suggest blood levels of phosphorylated tau (p-tau) isoforms can detect both the tau and amyloid pathologies that define Alzheimer disease (AD).1 More research is needed to replicate these results in large, diverse cohorts and quantify a p-tau blood test’s ability to prognosticate the onset of dementia. Nevertheless, we anticipate that the ability to receive diagnostic and prognostic information with the ease of a blood test will revolutionize AD research and care. We also anticipate that it will be the basis of a profitable direct-to-consumer (DTC) test, one that highlights considerable ethical and social challenges of DTC testing and AD.

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