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Biomarkers May Aid in Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer's
Date:9/13/2010

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Sept. 13 (HealthDay News) -- New research suggests that biomarkers in the blood may help diagnose Alzheimer's disease before it progresses, potentially opening the door to better treatments.

While there are currently no treatments that can halt or delay the onset of the disease, the hope is that being able to diagnose Alzheimer's earlier could provide clues about what medication might prevent it from getting worse, the study authors said.

"Most of the research to this point has been done on those who already have Alzheimer's disease," said study author Sid O'Bryant, director of research for the F. Marie Hall Institute for Rural and Community Health at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. "We need to be able to identify those at greatest risk."

In the study, researchers analyzed 100 biomarkers in the blood serum drawn from 197 patients with Alzheimer's and 203 people without Alzheimer's.

Participants were assigned a "risk score" based on levels of the various biomarkers, including C-reactive protein and interleukin-10, which have been associated with inflammation. About 22 of the 100 biomarkers emerged as the most significant, according to the study.

The biomarker risk score accurately identified 80 percent of those who had Alzheimer's disease. When Alzheimer's risk factors, such as age, sex, education and genetic information, were included, the test's accuracy was 94 percent.

Conversely, the biomarker risk score accurately identified who did not have the disease 91 percent of the time. When the other Alzheimer's risk factors were included in the score, accuracy was 84 percent.

The study is published in the September issue of the Archives of Neurology.

The study is promising but has limitations, said Dr. Ralph Nixon, director of the NYU Center of Excellence on Brain Aging.

The people in the study already had Alz
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