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Predicting Alzheimer's Risk in Patients With Cognitive Problems
Date:6/30/2010

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, June 30 (HealthDay News) -- New research suggests the combination of a memory test and a brain scan may best predict the likelihood that an individual with mild cognitive problems will go on to develop Alzheimer's disease.

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI), is a condition "in which a person has problems with memory, language or another mental function severe enough to be noticeable to other people and to show up on tests, but not serious enough to interfere with daily life," according to the Alzheimer's Association.

Although not everyone with MCI will go on to develop Alzheimer's, the team of researchers noted that some ultimately will. And using these tests in tandem, they said, could increase early intervention among those most at risk.

"Even though it's true that there aren't preventive treatments for Alzheimer's, there are good reasons to want to know early [whether you are developing it]," explained study author Susan M. Landau, a research scientist with the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at the University of California at Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

"Basically, there are a number of really exciting drugs in the pipeline now that are being tested," she explained. "It's overconfident to say it's just a matter of time, but there's a huge amount of money and effort going into vaccine-type drugs, drugs that treat the symptoms and all kinds of different mechanisms. So, there's a lot of promise. And as soon as we have a drug that works, we also hope to have the ability to tell who's going to benefit from that drug."

Landau and her colleagues report the findings in the June 30 issue of Neurology.

The study authors spent 1.9 years following the cognitive health of 85 patients participating in the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, taking place at 50 medical centers across the United States and Canada.

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