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Diagnosis of Alzheimer's years before clinical signs emerge

n to develop Alzheimers or cognitive impairments in the two years of the study. The subjects, aged around 70, were all healthy at the start of the project.

There is no test now that is good at predicting Alzheimers, says Myers. This will give families a couple of years to prepare.

Early warning:

Both Myers and Jagust say the long-term aim of their work is to tie the tests in with future drug treatments. Several drugs are being developed to inhibit the build up of the plaques and tangles of protein that build up in the brain and cause Alzheimers, and these treatments are likely to be most effective if they can be applied before clinical signs of the disease emerge.

A molecular treatment for Alzheimers will be possible in the future, predicts Jagust, so there has been a surge of interest in diagnosis.

Neither predictive test is ready to deploy, however. Myers wants first to replicate her results using a group two or three times bigger than the one she has been working with. Jagust plans to repeat his tests while using a new technique that allows researchers to measure, using a brain scan, levels of the molecules that cause plaques and tangles.
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