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Medicine Science

Technology To Detect Alzheimer's Takes SXSW Prize 81

Posted by samzenpus
from the catching-it-early dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Being able to diagnose people with Alzheimer's disease years before debilitating symptoms appear is now a step closer to reality. Researchers behind Neurotrack, the technology startup that took the first place health prize at this year's South by Southwest (SXSW) startup accelerator in Austin. The company says their new technology can diagnose Alzheimer's disease up to six years before symptoms appear with 100% accuracy."
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Technology To Detect Alzheimer's Takes SXSW Prize

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  • 100% accuracy? (Score:5, Informative)

    by balsy2001 (941953) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @08:16AM (#43169725)
    Not quite in line with the data. FTFA "Kaplan said 100 percent of subjects who scored below 50 percent on the test have gone to receive an Alzheimer's diagnosis within six years, while none of those who scored above 67 have developed Alzheimer's." This doesn't equate to 100% accuracy. What happens between 50 and 67%? Plus it doesn't say what the sample size is. Is it 1, 10, 100, 1000? Some more robust statistics would have been nice. They were probably trying to keep it simple instead of confusing people with 99/99, but they could have said "approaching 100%".
  • Re:What's the Point? (Score:4, Informative)

    by slimak (593319) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @08:34AM (#43169813)

    Looking for treatment and prevention requires a good way to measure if a therapy is working. Using clinical progression to Alzheimer's disease (AD) requires a huge multi-year study to get any real statistical power. Not everyone goes on to develop AD, people die from other stuff, etc. If a treatment doesn't work, you've just wasted lots of $ and time to find that out (e.g., http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18305231 [nih.gov]). Maybe you had your dose wrong, maybe you had the timing off, ... The search space for a treatment is HUGE, there has a to be an efficient way to quickly (relative here) and accurately determine if a therapy works. Having a way to detect and monitor neurodegenerative diseases would be awesome from a research standpoint. It would allow therapy to be tested using a cross sectional study rather than a longitudinal study.

  • Re:What's the point? (Score:5, Informative)

    by pchimp (767649) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @10:17AM (#43170681)
    There's growing evidence that treating Alzheimer's early, before substantial amyloid plaques have formed, can quite significantly delay the onset of symptoms. You need early screening tools to implement this.
  • Re:What's the point? (Score:4, Informative)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Thursday March 14, 2013 @11:49AM (#43171725)

    There's growing evidence that treating Alzheimer's early, before substantial amyloid plaques have formed, can quite significantly delay the onset of symptoms.

    Indeed. If you know you have AD, there are preventative measures you can take to delay, and possibly avoid, the onset. There are antibodies that can eliminate the amyloid plaques, but if you wait too long, there is too much and the antibodies cause fatal brain inflammation. Here is an article with more information: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23217740 [nih.gov]. Wikipedia also has a good overview [wikipedia.org].

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