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11 March 2014 08:49
No barrier: Having Alzheimer's need not be an obstacle to getting travel insurance and taking a holiday
A simple blood test could predict whether healthy pensioners are likely to develop Alzheimer's.
The early warning system could tell people if they are likely to get the disease within the next three years. Scientists hope the pioneering test could accelerate the development of new drugs that can delay or prevent the destructive brain disease.
The new work from the Georgetown University in Washington DC may ultimately result in common screening in middle-age people to single out those most in danger and give them greater warning.
Having Alzheimer's need not be a barrier to getting
travel insurance and enjoying your holiday, which can be so beneficial to people suffering with forms of dementia. The travel insurance can even cover your family and/or carers.
Around 800,000 Britons suffer from Alzheimer's and other kinds of dementia. An ageing population is expected to double this amount over the next generation.
Unsuccessful medications and pills have been blamed on people being tested too late in the condition. Testing in the initial stages could lead to a better chance of these drugs working, experts claim.
The new study could open up the chance of singling out people who will benefit from them the most.
Scientist Howard Federoff, who took blood samples from hundreds of healthy men and women aged 70-plus, claims the test can give two to three years' warning of Alzheimer's with 90 per cent accuracy.
The reason for how the test works is unclear. But blood changes may be an indicator that brain cells are deteriorating even when people appear healthy.
Dr Simon Ridley, of Alzheimer's Research UK, said: "A blood test to identify people at risk of Alzheimer's would be a real step forward for research."
Dr Doug Brown, of the Alzheimer's Society, said such a test would bring ethical considerations. He said: "If this does develop in the future people must be given a choice about whether they would want to know, and fully understand the implications."
Prime Minister David Cameron has called dementia "the key health challenge of this generation".
Dr. Federoff has written his conclusions in the journal Nature Medicine.
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