Bayer's Alzheimer's disease (AD) marker florbetaben was shown to help detect the illness in eight out of 10 cases in a Phase II study, possibly offering a way to diagnose early onset.

"(Bayer aims to) contribute to diagnosing AD in the future more precisely and at an earlier time during the course of the disease," the company said in a statement on Sunday.

Results from the study, which involved 213 participants, prompted Bayer to prepare for the third and last phase of testing usually required for regulatory approval, it said in June.

Currently, the illness can only be reliably diagnosed when symptoms such as memory loss, language breakdown and impaired movement are advanced and only a post-mortem brain tissue examination can bring absolute certainty.

Injection of florbetaben highlights so-called beta-amyloid plaques — which are associated with Alzheimer's — in a patients' brains under a positron emission tomography (PET) scan.

The study also showed that the florbetaben method identified more than nine out of 10 healthy participants in a control group as Alzheimer free.

More than 26 million people worldwide are estimated to be suffering from Alzheimer's disease and their number could exceed 100 million by 2050, Bayer said.

The company does not provide an annual peak sales estimate for the product.

Among the few treatment options against Alzheimer's are Eisai and Pfizer's Aricept, Exelon from Novartis, Ebixa from Lundbeck and Reminyl from Shire.