As in cancer and diabetes, McKhann pointed out, if you're trying therapies "only in people who have advanced dementia, the chances of them working is not very great."
"We're worried that there could be drugs around now that could be beneficial but that we could be using them too late in the disease course," added Albert.
The new guidelines, summarized William Thies, chief medical and scientific officer of the Alzheimer's Association, "will result in little change in current clinical practice of medicine as applied to Alzheimer's disease. . . . [However] the new criteria are really extending the range of our ability to investigate this disease and eventually to find treatments that will be so necessary to avoid the epidemic of Alzheimer's that we see facing us."
The new guidelines appear in four papers in Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association.
The Alzheimer's Association has more about mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
SOURCES: April 18, 2011 teleconference with William Thies, Ph.D., chief medical and scientific officer, Alzheimer's Association; Guy M. McKhann, M.D., professor of neurology and neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Marilyn Albert, Ph.D., director, division of cognitive neuroscience, department of neurology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Reisa A. Sperling, M.D., neurologist, Brigham and Women's Hospital and associate professor of neurology, Harvard Medical School
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