WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — Though research is still in its early stages, scientists say a saliva test could eventually help detect Alzheimer’s Disease.

HealthDay reports the study was to be presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Washington, D.C., on Sunday. Research is typically still considered preliminary until it is published in a peer-reviewed journal, experts noted.

“Saliva is easily obtained, safe and affordable, and has promising potential for predicting and tracking cognitive decline, but we’re in the very early stages of this work and much more research is needed,” study author Shraddha Sapkota, a neuroscience graduate student at the University of Alberta in Canada, said in a news release.

The research team tested the saliva of three groups of participants: 22 people with Alzheimer’s disease, 25 people with mild cognitive impairment (sometimes considered a precursor to dementia), and 35 people with healthy mental skills for their age.

The study found that participants with Alzheimer’s disease had saliva containing different levels of particular substances compared to the other participants.

“This is a very preliminary study with a small number of subjects and the results are far from conclusive,” said Dr. Allison Reiss, head of the Inflammation Section at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, New York, emphasizing that more research is needed.

Experts like Reiss believe the study could be missing important confounding factors like coexisting illness, medications, hydration level, tobacco use and other variables that could affect what’s found in the saliva samples.

“There are many gaps in the evidence,” Reiss told HealthDay. “It is uncertain whether the strength and consistency of the relationship between these metabolites [in saliva] and Alzheimer’s risk will be maintained in a large multicenter study.”

Other experts say that although the research is in its early stages, it’s very promising. If successful, the convenience of a saliva test to obtain a sample will be a key advantage.

Medical researchers unanimously agree that larger studies are needed to corroborate and validate the findings.