Never miss a story

Get subscribed to our newsletter


×
FILE - Dr. Jori Fleisher, neurologist, examines Thomas Doyle, 66, at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, July 9, 2019. VOA

Scientists are closing in on a long-sought goal — a blood test to screen people for possible signs of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. On Monday at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, half a dozen research groups gave new results on various experimental tests, including one that seems 88% accurate at indicating Alzheimer’s risk.

Doctors are hoping for something to use during routine exams, where most dementia symptoms are evaluated, to gauge who needs more extensive testing. Current tools such as brain scans and spinal fluid tests are too expensive or impractical for regular check-ups.


“We need something quicker and dirtier. It doesn’t have to be perfect” to be useful for screening, said Maria Carrillo, the Alzheimer’s Association’s chief science officer.

Dr. Richard Hodes, director of the National Institute on Aging, called the new results “very promising” and said blood tests soon will be used to choose and monitor people for federally funded studies, though it will take a little longer to establish their value in routine medical care.


“Even though no medical treatment is without risk, getting treatment for high blood pressure could be important to maintain brain health in patients with Alzheimer’s disease,” Claassen said. Pixabay

“In the past year we’ve seen a dramatic acceleration in progress” on these tests, he said. “This has happened at a pace that is far faster than any of us would have expected.”

It can’t come too soon for patients like Tom Doyle, a 66-year-old former university professor from Chicago who has had two spinal fluid tests since developing memory problems four years ago. First he was told he didn’t have Alzheimer’s, then that he did. He ultimately was diagnosed with different problems — Lewy body dementia with Parkinson’s.

“They probably could have diagnosed me years ago accurately if they had had a blood test,” said Doyle, who represents patients on the Alzheimer’s Association’s board.

88% accuracy overall

About 50 million people worldwide have dementia, and Alzheimer’s is the most common form. There is no cure; current medicines just temporarily ease symptoms. Dozens of hoped-for treatments have failed. Doctors think studies may have enrolled people after too much brain damage had occurred and included too many people with problems other than Alzheimer’s.


Poor sleep can predict Alzheimer’s Risk in elderly. Pixabay

A blood test — rather than subjective estimates of thinking skills — could get the right people into studies sooner. One of the experimental blood tests measures abnormal versions of the protein that forms the plaques in the brain that are the hallmark of Alzheimer’s. Last year, Japanese researchers published a study of it and on Monday they gave results from validation testing on 201 people with Alzheimer’s, other types of dementia, mild impairment or no symptoms.

The blood test results closely matched those from the top tests used now — three types of brain scans and a mental assessment exam, said Dr. Akinori Nakamura of the National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology in Obu, Japan. The test correctly identified 92% of people who had Alzheimer’s and correctly ruled out 85% who did not have it, for an overall accuracy of 88%. Shimadzu Corp. has rights to the test and is working to commercialize it, Nakamura said.

Ruling out disorders

Another experimental test looks at neurofilament light, a protein that’s a marker of nerve damage. Abdul Hye of King’s College London gave results of a study comparing blood levels of it in 2,300 people with various neurological conditions — Alzheimer’s, other dementias, Parkinson’s, depression, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease — plus healthy folks for comparison.

Levels were significantly higher in eight conditions, and only 2% of healthy folks were above a threshold they set for raising concern. The test doesn’t reveal which disorder someone has, but it may help rule one out when symptoms may be psychological or due to other problems.


Like the Japanese test, it measures the abnormal Alzheimer protein, and the new results will show how well the test reflects what brain scans show on nearly 500 people. Pixabay

Later at the conference, Dr. Randall Bateman of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis will give new results on a blood test he helped develop that the university has patented and licensed to C2N Diagnostics, a company he co-founded. Like the Japanese test, it measures the abnormal Alzheimer protein, and the new results will show how well the test reflects what brain scans show on nearly 500 people.

“Everyone’s finding the same thing … the results are remarkably similar across countries, across techniques,” said Bateman, whose work is supported by the U.S. government and the Alzheimer’s Association. He estimates a screening test could be as close as three years away.

ALSO READ: Healthy Lifestyle Can Cut Risk of Developing Alzheimer Even if You Have High Genetic Risk: Study

What good will that do without a cure?

An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll last year found that most Americans would want to know if they carried a gene tied to a disease even if it was incurable. “What people want most of all is a diagnosis” if they’re having symptoms, said Jonathan Schott of University College London. “What we don’t like is not knowing what’s going on.” (VOA)


Popular

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

With the baby keeping you busy all day and night, your skincare takes a backseat.

When you become a mother, you tend to forget about your own needs because you are so focused on your child. With the baby keeping you busy all day and night, your skincare takes a backseat. It's not always changes in skin texture and looks post-pregnancy are a bad thing, but not taking care of your skin may lead to acne, melasma, stretch marks, puffy eyes, and even dark circles. Syed Nazim, Dermatologist, Aesthetic and Hair Transplant Surgeon, Royal Lush Skin Clinic Saket, New Delhi, shares simple and easy tips for you to follow, to get a glowing post-pregnancy.

* Cleansing: As you sleep, your skin goes through a renewal cycle, by dispensing toxins and debris. So you only need a light-textured cleanser to wash your face with a face wash that is suitable for your skin type.

* Steam: Take steam for 2-3 days a week, it will help you to open up your clogged pores.

* Scrub & face pack: Use a face scrub, to remove the dead skin cells, scrub your face for like 5 minutes and wash it with normal tap water. It will help you to make your skin softer and radiant, leave the mask until it dries off.

* Toner & moisturizer: Apply toner to your face, look for clarifying toners that rebalance your pH to maintain the pH value of your skin. In the end, you only have to moisturize your face, to give hydration.

* Steal baby products: Baby products are always mild in nature so that the baby's sensitive skin doesn't have to compromise. They are created to lock moisture in babies skin. So, you can also use them. Whether it's a body oil, lotion or cream, apply some on your skin every time you're applying them on your baby. If you do this, you can flaunt your skin, this way, you don't have to dedicate a specific time every day for your skincare.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Valeriia Kogan on Unsplash

Colorless chemicals were developed and mixed in varying ratios to dye hair.

A couple of years ago, finding a strand of grey hair meant visiting the parlor to cover it up. Women and men refused to admit their age, and refused to let it show. Be it moustache, eyebrows, or hair on the head, it was dyed a luscious black, or reddish-brown for those who wanted to go natural. Today, the trend of coloring hair has nothing to do with age. Young boys and girls sport bright colors and hairstyles, which is now a marker of how modern one can be.

This notion of modernity associated with neon streaks and an almost gothic look originates from the ancient Egyptian civilization, where it was considered fashionable to look different from the natural features one was born with. Kohl, lipstick, perfume, and makeup were the inventions of those who hoped to live even after death. Likewise, they were the first people to discover hair dye. Initially, they dyed their hair black, to cover the grey. They used compounds that were extracted from plants, but some of them were lethal. So, they took to extracting the color from fermented leeches.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Wikimedia Commons

One of the bookshop at Daryaganj, Chandni Chowk, Delhi.

The history of Daryaganj goes back to the era of Mughal dynasty, and so its history is as old as the old city of Shahjahanabad, now Chandni Chowk. Interestingly, this market was known as Faiz Bazaar in the Mughal era and was considered as an important commercial place.

In fact, at that time this area was very posh, and had beautiful houses on both sides of a stream from a hauz (meaning, water storage tank) flowing down the centre. Not only this, trees were lined up for shade and it looked like a marvellous garden had been turned into a market.

Keep reading... Show less