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Medicine Science

First Proven Diagnostic Test For Alzheimer's 66

Posted by kdawson
from the peace-of-mind-or-otherwise dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A test that can confirm or rule out Alzheimer's disease at an early stage has been shown effective by US pathologists. 'With this test, we can reliably detect and track the progression of Alzheimer's disease,' said lead researcher Leslie Shaw with the University of Pennsylvania's Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative in Philadelphia. ... The new test is detailed in the journal Annals of Neurology. It measures the cerebral-spinal fluid concentration of two biochemicals associated with the disease — amyloid beta42 peptide and tau protein."
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First Proven Diagnostic Test For Alzheimer's

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  • spinal tap? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dr_Banzai (111657) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @07:26PM (#27410469) Homepage
    This Alzheimer's test goes to 11.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kylemonger (686302)
      No joke. I think most people when faced with a lumbar puncture would choose to not to know, or to just start taking Aricept blind. A needle in the arm or the ass is bad enough, a needle in the spine is a whole other level of terror.
      • In all honesty, a spinal tap is not that bad of a procedure, provided that the patient relaxes and doesn't try to use their back for a bit after the tap is done. Oh, and yeah, it hurts, but not (from what I've heard) any worse than a needle in the triceps, like a few vaccines.

        • by Inda (580031)
          Interesting.

          I had to hold down my 3 year old daughter while they stuck a needle in her spine. This is a standard test for meningitis.

          If I could have made her relax, or even taken the needle myself, I would have done it. The memory haunts me to this day.

          She had a bladder infection, thank fuck.
        • In all honesty, a spinal tap is not that bad of a procedure, provided that the patient relaxes and doesn't try to use their back for a bit after the tap is done.

          A whole lotta women get it done during childbirth, too, and do just fine. (Men are real wimps sometimes. If I had to carry the babies we'd probably have zero kids. Certainly no more than one.)

          Well, okay, an epidural [wikipedia.org] isn't quite as deep as a spinal tap, but the difference is millimeters. Accidentally puncturing the dura is pretty common. My wife h

          • Well, okay, an epidural isn't quite as deep as a spinal tap, but the difference is millimeters.

            Dude. I'm no doctor, and I've never had a spinal tap, but it seems like a few millimeters might be a whole hell of a lot more painful when you are talking about drilling into the spinal column.
            Just my guess though.

      • by nospam007 (722110) *

        Not to mention that I cannot test my boss very secretly that way.

      • I love pain, where do I sign up?

      • I had to get a spinal tap done when I was younger. I was hospitalized for a little while and I thought I felt fucked up because of the drugs or the illness. When I got sent home from the hospital I still couldn't move around very well and was stuck in bed. But no, years later I had another bout of whatever it was I had, and this time I didn't get a spinal tap, and was up and about in a couple of days after the illness had past. The most horrendous part is that they lost the results of the test for which the
        • by omris (1211900)

          I could see choosing even a very unpleasant spinal tap over having AD, but that's not really the choice being offered here. It's having a potentially unpleasant procedure to find out that yes, you do in fact have this disease, about which we can do almost nothing.

          The meds we have now are really piss poor. Do crosswords and hard math problems a lot. It's cheaper and WAY less painful. Plus it might actually help.

      • by alexo (9335)

        I got one done in my early teens.
        Definitely not fun but not as bad as you make it sound.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @07:26PM (#27410471)

    After that, the court order...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @07:27PM (#27410475)

    But at least I don't have Alzheimer's.

    • by rts008 (812749)

      Yo' dawg, we heard you like Alzheimer', so we put a...What??!?!?!? Who are you?

      Ohhhh! Shiny!

      Head a splodes...or not, I forget...*goes back to editing on /.*

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Doug Neal (195160)

      The best thing about Alzheimer's is that you can hide your own easter eggs.

  • Not april fools (Score:3, Informative)

    by BlueParrot (965239) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @07:36PM (#27410569)

    This is not april fools people. Was reported in Swedish media some time ago.

    • by Spatial (1235392)
      Watch out, he's trying to catch you off guard!
    • Are you kidding me? The article clearly says that the researcher forgot how it worked immediately after discovering it. How is that not an April Fools joke?

    • by MrMista_B (891430)

      Yeah, but given the way the /. editors shit all over the page on April 1, who knows for sure?

    • Oh, I'm so glad I saw this post. You just reminded me that I need to STAY AWAY from Slashdot tomorrow. Some sites have subtle, actually-humorous April Fool's Day gags. Slashdot's are like being beaten in the face with raw pork loin.

  • Rap Stars? (Score:2, Funny)

    by WarlockD (623872)
    The new test is detailed in the journal Annals of Neurology. It measures the cerebral-spinal fluid concentration of two biochemicals associated with the disease â" amyloid beta42 peptide and tau protein."

    They sound like rap stars. I hope there isn't some kind of "group" name for these protein's.
  • ... Good news Everybody!
  • what was it again?

  • Original article (Score:4, Informative)

    by aibob (1035288) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @08:10PM (#27410875)
    You can read the abstract of the article in the Annals of Neurology at http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/122266379/abstract [wiley.com]
  • ...if biomarkers for ALS can be found.
  • by sacremon (244448) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @09:29PM (#27411453)

    We still don't have a cure for it, so you are just telling the person at present 'Hey, you have Alzheimer's! Good luck with that!". I know, there might be treatments that can take advantage of early detection some time in the future, but at present it would just be pretty depressing.

    • by Mr2001 (90979) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @09:49PM (#27411581) Homepage Journal

      A diagnostic test is useful for finding a cure, though. When doing research, it helps to know who actually has the disease and be able to measure whether it's getting better or worse.

      • by Finite9 (757961)
        Whats new here? They could test for Alzheimers 10 years ago. Seems like Sweden is at the forefront of Alzheimers research though. There is a very nice man called Christer who runs the Alzheimers fÃrening (organisation) in Sweden who is *very* active in driving recognition of the disease. I can imagine that a good reason for testing early is to rule out other things. My wifes mother dies of the disease 6 years ago, her uncle now has it, and her other uncle has another dementia, though not Alzzheime
    • by wazza (16772)

      True. One upside might be that with a working test for Alzheimer's, doctors (especially those who aren't experienced in it) will not put you on other neuro-type treatments for diseases that look somewhat like Alzheimer's. At least then you won't be on unnecessary drugs.

    • If we can find a diagnostic, we might find a way to help prevent/prolong onset, so learning earlier might give a person a better chance to prepare.
    • by kaaona (252061) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:04PM (#27412035)

      If only we could find a way to bring my dear mother back to her husband and family today. She's living in the world of her teens and 20s, and always angry that no one else thinks it's 1940. She doesn't recognize her two sons, and we miss her terribly. Alzheimer's is the cruelest of diseases.

    • by PPH (736903)

      Let me know when they can help me find my car keys.

    • by turing_m (1030530)

      We still don't have a cure for it, so you are just telling the person at present 'Hey, you have Alzheimer's! Good luck with that!".

      Knowing allows planning - for the person (as best they can), their relatives, friends and people at work. Consider the alternative. You have a person who is slowly but surely (although often with periods of lucidity) losing their memory, their judgment, and acting in increasingly inappropriate ways. This is a serious problem for all concerned.

      If you know you have Alzheimers,

    • The future is now. Aricept can be used to delay the progression of Alzheimer's at all stages, but starting before the symptoms get bad is obviously very useful. Having a good test for Alzheimer's might make it easier to experiment for a cure.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Try a little tenderness. The caregiver's bible is 'The 36-Hour Day.' Aricept is unlikely to make any difference. Avoid neuroleptics if at all possible. Try to laugh with, rather than at. Peace
    • by aoeu (532208)
      WTF, over. What the fuck is wrong with you people. This is not funny, my mother is likely to die of AD. Really, try a little tenderness. Peace
      • by aoeu (532208)
        The parent rant was due to the grandparent being modded +5 funny. I prefer insightful. Peace
  • by blind biker (1066130) on Wednesday April 01, 2009 @12:06AM (#27412345) Journal

    Those who don't have a loved one with suspected Alzheimer's Disease (AD) don't even imagine how important this news is. AD is impossible to accurately decisively diagnose before it's moderate to advanced (before that it's just a non-specific Mild Cognitive Impairment), and even then there will always be doubts. AD is only decisively diagnosed after the death of the patient, when a biopsy of cerebral mass is made. No genetic diagnosis egsists, because there are so many genetic modifications that can lead to AD.

    Anyway, this is great news for me, as I do have someone who is suspect to early signs of AD. I hope he can be tested soon.

  • This kind of testing was performed on my wife in the fall of 2006 her in the Netherlands. In de december 2006 she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease based on the test results. I do not know whether this is exactly the same test as described in the article, but I remember having read that it was developed by a Dutch academical hospital.
  • This is indeed really good news as previous testing consisted of cutting open the skull and counting the rings.

    I kid in part, but I could have sworn that the only way to positively diagnose Alzheimer's was in a post-mortem. If it's possible to detect in the very early stages, before it becomes debilitating, those who have it may get a chance to put some things in order and make their wishes (DNR, Long-term care options, etc) known to loved ones.

    My grandfather died of Alzheimer's, but the doctors would never

Recent research has tended to show that the Abominable No-Man is being replaced by the Prohibitive Procrastinator. -- C.N. Parkinson

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