(HealthDay News) — A major advance has been made in creating a blood test to predict when at-risk people will develop Alzheimer’s disease, according to scientists.

In a study that included more than 1,000 people, the British researchers identified proteins in the blood that were 87% accurate in forecasting which people with mild cognitive impairment would develop Alzheimer’s within a year, BBC News reported.

The findings, published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia, will be used to improve studies of new drugs to treat Alzheimer’s. “We want to be able to identify people to enter clinical trials earlier than they currently do and that’s really what we’ve been aiming at,” lead researcher Professor Simon Lovestone, of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, told BBC News.

However, the test may eventually be available for doctors to use on patients. “Having a protein test is really a major step forwards,” Ian Pike, PhD, chief operating officer at Proteome Sciences in Cobham, U.K., told BBC News. “[It] will take several years and need many more patients before we can be certain these tests are suitable for routine clinical use; that process can start fairly quickly now.”

Health Highlights: July 8, 2014