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Another Blood Test for Alzheimer's Shows Promise
Date:8/3/2011

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 3 (HealthDay News) -- A blood test that screens for certain markers in the blood called "autoantibodies" is showing promise in diagnosing Alzheimer's disease, researchers report.

The blood test correctly detected Alzheimer's disease in people already diagnosed with the devastating brain disorder with 96 percent accuracy, according to the researchers. The test could also distinguish who didn't have the disease from a control group of non-affected adults with 92.5 percent accuracy.

Though outside experts said the findings may be another step toward a quicker, easier way to diagnose Alzheimer's, they cautioned that there's still a long way to go.

The researchers who developed the test have not yet determined how early in the course of the disease the test works, such as whether the test would be able to detect people with the earliest signs of the disease or even before symptoms appeared, said Dr. Aron Buchman, a neurologist in the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago who was not involved with the research. He pointed out that the patients tested had already been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

"This is important work that is at the edge of the envelope where the field is moving," said Buchman. "But Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disorder that takes many years to develop, with the end stage being dementia. This study didn't look at any people with mild cognitive impairment [mild memory loss that may progress to dementia] or who had Alzheimer's pathology in the brain but were not yet having clinical symptoms."

The study is published in the Aug. 3 online edition of PLoS ONE.

In the study, researchers at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-School of Osteopathic Medicine put a drop of blood taken from 50 people with Alzheimer's disease and 40 people without dementia onto slides c
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