Today's Top Alzheimer's News
March 10, 2014
Blood test may predict early Alzheimer's disease, the ethical questions of diagnosing Alzheimer's early, and the need to fund Alzheimer's research now to avoid future economic disaster (read more).
- A March 9, 2014 NBC News article reported that researchers at Georgetown University and the University of Rochester have developed "a blood test that can predict who is about to develop Alzheimer’s or related early memory loss up to two years before the first symptoms may be in early stages of development." According to the article, "Many scientists have tried, and failed, to come up with a test that can predict Alzheimer’s. But this one, developed by teams at Georgetown University and the University of Rochester, seems especially accurate. “This is the first time a highly sensitive and specific test has been able to predict who will become demented,” says Dr. Howard Federoff of Georgetown, who helped lead the research published in the journal Nature Medicine." Georgetown University announcement here. Additional coverage from CNN, ABC News, BBC.
- A March 9, 2014 NPR article reported on the ethical questions raised by a new Alzheimer's blood test. According to the article, "The results need to be confirmed, and the approach still needs to be tried in people of different ages and from different racial groups, Federoff says. Even so, he says, it raises the possibility that in the not too distant future, a lot more people will know their risk of Alzheimer's…On the other hand, people who have the Alzheimer's gene and know it tend to rate their own memories as worse than people who have the gene but don't know it, he says. And knowing you carry the gene also seems to hurt people's performance on memory tests.But the biggest concern about Alzheimer's testing probably has to do with questions of stigma and identity, Karlawish says. "How will other people interact with you if they learn that you have this information?" he says. "And how will you think about your own brain and your sort of sense of self?"
- A March 7, 2014 Minnesota Star Tribune opinion piece by Nancy Wurtzel called on policymakers to "fund Alzheimer's research now or pay a huge price later." According to Wurtzel, "Congress recently allotted more funds for research — $122 million. That’s a start. What we actually need is more in the range of two billion. This may sound like an astronomical number. However, it is miniscule compared to the personal and government financial outlay that is anticipated if we don’t find a cure or at least effective treatments for the disease. What are the anticipated costs? By 2050, the projected cost of Alzheimer’s will be a trillion dollars. Let’s pay the two billion now, rather than paying so much more later."