Alzheimers Post 2 (Web)

$3.2 Million Awarded to the University of South Florida for Development of Blood Test for Alzheimer’s Disease with Reliance Medical Centers as Local Participation Site

Can Alzheimer’s disease be detected by a blood test? 

The University of South Florida has been actively seeking older adults in good health to volunteer for the Preventing Alzheimer’s with Cognitive Training (PACT) study. This landmark study examines whether computerized brain training exercises can reduce the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia, including the effects from Alzheimer’s disease.

Additional funding of $3.2 million was just awarded to further investigate if Alzheimer’s disease can be detected early through simple blood tests, available as early as next year. These blood tests are new and specialized, which means only a select few locations can collect these samples. One such location is longtime collaborator, Reliance Medical Centers. With medical centers in Lakeland, Tampa and Winter Haven, the blood tests will be collected exclusively in Lakeland, the PACT clinical trial offered at both the Lakeland and Winter Haven centers and Brain Health Assessment in all locations.  

“We are pleased to expand the ongoing PACT clinical trial to include biospecimen data collection in partnership with NCRAD which will contribute significantly to our current understanding of biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease in a diverse population of older adults,” said Dr. Aryn Bush, Vice President, Science and Translation Director, Brain Health and Cognition​ Director, USF-Reliance Optimal Aging & Brain Health Research. “Our findings will inform the development of valid, reliable, and efficient blood tests that can be utilized broadly for the preclinical and early detection of progressive, degenerative causes of cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s. We are grateful for our continued partnership with Reliance Medical Centers as the only USF PACT clinical trial sites in Polk County.”

The $3.2 million grant from the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health expands USF’s PACT study. The PACT study will now work with the National Centralized Repository for Alzheimer’s disease and Related Dementias to take the giant step of analyzing blood specimens collected from study participants.

The PACT study is recruiting volunteers aged 65 and older with no signs of cognitive impairment or dementia. Those interested in the study may participate in initial testing at the USF Tampa or St. Petersburg campuses or at Reliance Medical Centers. In addition, participants may also join the study at Clemson University, University of Florida, University of North Florida, or Duke University. PACT participants may now volunteer to provide blood samples that will be used to develop tests for early detection of Alzheimer’s disease.

“We need another 2000 healthy older adults to volunteer for the PACT study. We are very grateful to the 1800 volunteers from Tampa Bay who have already joined our fight against Alzheimer’s disease by enrolling in PACT”, said principal investigator Jerri Edwards, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. “Participants will now not only be contributing to our work on how to possibly prevent dementia, but also advancing efforts to develop blood tests for early detection of the disease.”

More information is available at the PACT study website,, or by calling(813) 974-6703.

Studies like PACT take on increased urgency because no proven treatments yet exist to cure or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. Existing methods of diagnosing dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease require expensive PET scans or invasive cerebrospinal fluid samples, but scientists are now working toward developing simple blood tests to replace the existing methods.

The USF PACT study concentrates on the effectiveness of computerized programs, or brain games, for preventing dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease. At the end of the PACT trial, the scientists will examine the blood samples from willing participants and determine which specific blood-based biomarkers predict Alzheimer’s disease, the severity of the disease, and/or responsiveness to treatment.

The PACT study is supported by the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), grant number R01AG070349. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

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