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09 July 2014 09:46
Alzheimer's: need not be a barrier to enjoying a good family holiday
Knowing whether you have Alzheimer's disease could be just one simple blood test away as early as 2016, scientists claim.
The test predicts with nearly 90% accuracy whether people with slight memory loss will eventually be diagnosed with the disease up to a year before symptoms appear.
It is hoped the test could assist families in planning for their loved ones suffering the illness. The procedure is likely to cost between £100 and £300.
Experts predict the test will revolutionise the hunt for new treatment for this brain illness, which affects about 600,000 UK residents every year.
Every drug trial aimed at halting or reversing Alzheimer's has been unsuccessful.
A leading reason behind this failure is that test patients are enlisted when their Alzheimer's has already taken too great a grip, according to researchers.
The latest test relies on 10 telltale "biomarker" proteins. Scientists analysed 26 proteins which had earlier been linked to the illness.
They then studied blood samples across 1,146 people - 476 of these were Alzheimer's sufferers, 220 suffered with intermittent memory lapses, and 450 older people enjoyed good health.
Scientists stress that most memory failures do not result in Alzheimer's.
But they found blood proteins - as many as 10 - that were common in nearly nine-tenths (87%) of occasional memory loss sufferers who were diagnosed with Alzheimer's within the next 12 months.
Co-test pioneer, King's College London's Simon Lovestone, says it could help the medical profession much earlier.
Professor Lovestone now wants to create a trustworthy test that can be used by GPs.
Alzheimer's Research UK is cautioning that such a test can only be expected to be used as a preliminary diagnostics measure in tandem with later brain scans plus spinal fluid sample collections.
The study is published in the Alzheimer's & Dementia journal.
Specialist travel insurance can be arranged for people with Alzheimer's .
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