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

t of those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and 36 percent of those who had no cognitive impairments.

A signature consisting of low amyloid levels and high phosphorylated tau levels identified patients with MCI who progressed to Alzheimer's with 100 percent accuracy, the team said.

The fact that the signature was also found in individuals with no sign of cognitive impairment underlines the likelihood that Alzheimer's disease has started long before it is symptomatic, stated the authors.

Another research group, this one set to report its finding in the December print issue of the Archives of Neurology verified that blood levels of the beta-amyloid protein predict progression toward Alzheimer's -- another step towards identifying valid biomarkers for the disease.

Patients who started out with high levels of the protein that later tapered off, saw their cognitive health decline more rapidly, even if they did not end up with full-blown Alzheimer's.

"High baseline levels of amyloid beta in combination with declining levels over time was sort of a high-risk profile for the development of Alzheimer's disease," explained study first author Stephanie Cosentino, an assistant professor of neuropsychology at Columbia University's Taub Institute in New York City.

The findings support the "amyloid cascade" theory of Alzheimer's, "which points to the accumulate of amyloid in brain as primary trigger for Alzheimer's disease," Cosentino said.

"This paper, which replicated an [earlier] study on these three risk genes indicates that ultimately, genetic biomarkers may play a very strong role in the whole spectrum of biomarkers [involved in Alzheimer's]," stated Carrillo, who was not involved with either study.

But, Cosentino cautioned, "amyloid beta is not ready to be used as a disease biomarker. Not everyone who has high levels of plasma amyloid beta will demonstrate Alzheimer's disease or cognitive decline. Other factors ne
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