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However, it could be useful in clinical trials.

Other scientists have estimated that at this experimental stage, it is still too early to say how much the new method can actually counterbalance the downsizing of cognitive functions of Alzheimer's patients. Rather than use individual peptides as biomarkers, the researchers use ratios of peptides.

The scientists wrote in the Nature journal: "All test biomarkers showed high performance when predicting brain amyloid-beta burden".

The research team analyzed plasma samples from two independent data sets that contained samples from people who were cognitively normal, people who had mild cognitive impairment, and people who had Alzheimer's-related dementia.

Now levels of the peptide can only be measured in living patients using costly brain scans or highly invasive tests of cerebrospinal fluid.

"Progress in developing new therapeutic strategies for Alzheimer's disease has been disappointingly slow".

Carol Routledge, director of research at Alzheimer's Research UK, said that "further work with more people will need to build on this study to understand how well this approach could predict those who will go on to develop symptoms of Alzheimer's in the future".

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Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting up to 70 per cent of all people with dementia, with three in 10 people over 85 having dementia, according to the Australian government's Dementia Australia organisation.

In 2016, dementia became the leading cause of death among Australian females, surpassing heart disease.

"If (it) can be repeated in a larger number of people, this test will give us an insight into changes occurring in the brain that relate to Alzheimer's disease", said Mark Dallas, a lecturer in Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience at Britain's University of Reading.

But the test's first likely application within the next 12 months would be screening participants for clinical trials, especially those in the pre-clinical phase of the disease who have not yet developed outward symptoms.

New drugs were urgently needed "and the only way to do that is to speed up the whole process", he said. Researchers want more easily accessible biomarkers that can provide the same information, but they've had no luck so far.

"It's highly finicky at the moment", Professor Masters said, but could could be automated and adapted for clinical practice, and used in every major city in the world "within a reasonable period of time".

Dr Koichi Tanaka from Japanese medical technology company Shimadzu Corporation was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2002 for developing the blood testing procedure.