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'Biomarkers' Could Spot Alzheimer's Disease Early, Studies Suggest
Date:8/9/2010

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Aug. 9 (HealthDay News) -- The presence of three proteins in cerebrospinal fluid may spot Alzheimer's disease long before symptoms start and might also signal how fast the disease is progressing.

The findings, appearing in the August issue of the Archives of Neurology, support recently released diagnostic criteria touting the use of such proteins, also known as biomarkers, in aiding diagnosis of this form of dementia.

"This just reinforces the recommendation by [Alzheimer's working groups] saying that biomarkers can actually be incorporated today into clinical practice in order to add a certain piece to the diagnosis if patients are already presenting with something that looks like Alzheimer's," said Maria C. Carrillo, senior director of medical and scientific relations at the Alzheimer's Association.

An accompanying editorial echoed that thought, by "strongly commend[ing] CSF [cerebrospinal fluid] analyses of A1-42, T-tau, and P-tau in circumstances where having a definitive diagnosis of AD is important for counseling patients about such concerns as work, driving, and making other lifestyle changes."

Scientists have been busily trying to find physiological indications that can indicate if a person has Alzheimer's disease or is going to develop it. Right now, effective medications against Alzheimer's do not exist. However, the disease likely begins a decade or so before symptoms appear, experts say, so spotting it early might someday mean earlier (and therefore more effective) prevention and treatment.

These researchers measured levels of three proteins - total tau protein, phosphorylated tau and amyloid protein - in the cerebrospinal (CSF) of 102 people with Alzheimer's, 200 people with mild cognitive impairment and 114 "normal" individuals.

An "Alzheimer's disease signature" was present in 90 percent of the Alzheimer's patients, 72 percen
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