There's a breakthrough in the effort to figure out Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Howard Federoff, a neurologist at Georgetown University's medical center, says researchers have developed a blood test that can predict with better than 90 percent accuracy when a healthy patient is within three years of beginning to lose his mind.
They did it, not by waiting for patients to show signs of dementia, but by studying biomarkers in 525 test subjects of 70 years of age, whose brains were normal.
"In this study, we sought to find a set of circulating molecules that would allow us to predict who, in the next several years will develop cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's disease," explained Federoff.
Sure enough, they found biological red flags in their blood, specifically 10 distinct types of blood fats which were at a consistently low level in the patients that went on to develop Alzheimer's.
"There's something about the Alzheimer's state or the risk for developing it will drive them down," said Federoff.
So, would you want to know? Especially knowing that there's no cure yet?
One thing to consider is that this means, for the first time, researchers may finally have a way of treating patients who they know are about to get the disease before their brain cells start dying.
"We may be able to use this diagnostic to test," said Federoff, and, "might be able to delay that group of individuals from developing Alzheimer's disease," he said.
Dr. Howard Federoff's research is in the latest issue of Nature Medicine.