Researchers – including those at UC Irvine – have discovered and validated a blood test that can predict with greater than 90 percent accuracy whether a healthy person will develop mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease within three years. Described in the April issue of Nature Medicine, the study heralds the potential for developing treatment strategies for Alzheimer’s at an earlier stage, when therapy would be more effective at slowing or preventing symptoms. It’s the first known published report of blood-based biomarkers for preclinical Alzheimer’s. The test identifies 10 lipids, or fats, in the blood that predict disease onset. It could be ready for use in clinical studies in as few as two years, and researchers say that other diagnostic uses are possible. Dr. Claudia Kawas, the Nichols Chair in Neuroscience at UC Irvine, is among the authors of the study, which was led by Dr. Howard Federoff of Georgetown University. It involved 525 healthy participants aged 70 and older who gave blood samples upon enrolling and at various points in the study. More than 100 of them came from UC Irvine’s Orange County Aging Study.