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article imageBlood test that detects Alzheimer's nearing reality

By Michael Thomas     Jul 29, 2013 in Science
A German research team believes that they are close to developing a blood test that can diagnose the brain-wasting Alzheimer's disease.
The team from Saarland University, Germany, if successful, will have created the first definitive test for the disease, which is usually predicted by use of brain scans and cognition tests, according to BBC News.
The research, which was published in the journal Genome Biology, showed that scientists may be able to detect tiny differences in genetic material (microRNAs) in blood that would identify Alzheimer's in patients.
The process involved more than just spotting the microRNAs, however. Patients with other brain disorders can sometimes exhibit Alzheimer's-like symptoms, so the test needed to be able to distinguish Alzheimer's from psychological disorders like schizophrenia and other neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson's disease.
The test was accurate 93 percent of the time in the 202 trials conducted.
However, it is still too early to say that this test is the be-all and end-all. More research will be needed to ensure accuracy and effectiveness.
"A blood test to help detect Alzheimer's could be a useful addition to a doctor's diagnostic armoury, but such a test must be well validated before it's considered for use," Dr. Eric Karran, of Alzheimer's Research UK, told the BBC. "We need to see these findings confirmed in larger samples and more work is needed to improve the test's ability to distinguish Alzheimer's from other neurological conditions."
More about Alzheimer's, Dementia, Blood test
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