DALLAS Oct. 6, 2010 A set of proteins found in blood serum shows promise as a sensitive and accurate way to diagnose Alzheimer's disease, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found as part of a statewide study.
An analysis of the proteins, plus a clinical exam, proved 94 percent accurate in detecting suspected Alzheimer's and 84 percent accurate in ruling it out in people without the disease, the researchers said.
"This research uses a novel technology that makes it possible to analyze several biomarkers in a single blood sample in a cost-effective way," said Dr. Ramn Daz-Arrastia, professor of neurology at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study which was published in the September issue of the Archives of Neurology.
Researchers have been seeking a simple blood test for Alzheimer's for years, Dr. Daz-Arrastia said, but no single substance, or "biomarker," has been shown to be useful. Such a test, he said, would be comparable in principle to measuring blood cholesterol as a biomarker of cardiovascular disease.
Alzheimer's disease is an incurable degenerative brain disease, which currently afflicts about 5.3 million people over 65 in the U.S., according to the National Alzheimer's Association. By 2050 that number is expected to reach 11 million or more.
The disease is difficult to diagnose, particularly in its early stages when it resembles other cognitive problems. Currently, a definitive diagnosis is possible only after examining the brain tissue of deceased individuals. Tests for suspected Alzheimer's are often expensive or invasive, and not every patient is able or willing to undergo them, the researchers stated.
A blood test would provide a convenient diagnostic method that could be performed by health care workers nearly anywhere. In addition, a definitive diagnosis is important because treatments specifically targeting Alzheimer's might not be effective against other forms of
|Contact: Aline McKenzie|
UT Southwestern Medical Center