Alzheimer’s Test

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It could be a breakthrough that will allow physicians to diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease in its early stages. Doctors at McGill University’s Health Centre say they have developed a simple blood test that can detect the disease in the lab. It works by measuring levels of a hormone called DHEA.

Until now, the only way to definitively diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease has been by post-mortem; when patients are alive, doctors must rely on analyzing symptoms, conducting tests and gathering patient history.

It means diagnosis often comes relatively late, when the limited drugs now on the market and others being developed will have relatively little impact.

The study’s author says a quick, non-invasive test would allow doctors to tell if someone has cognitive problems, screen them earlier and see if they need a special program or protocol. That would be an improvement but an early diagnostic test can’t change the course of the disease because there is no effective treatment to stop it, nor is it possible to forecast accurately when symptoms will become incapacitating.

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