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Medicine Science

Technology To Detect Alzheimer's Takes SXSW Prize 81

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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  • by scottrocket ( 1065416 ) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @08:14AM (#43169707) Journal

    A good screening test is one that identifies a treatable disease.

    Or six years extra for people to try experimental treatments before symptoms kick in. Or six extra years to decide when or how to gracefully leave this world, with dignity.

  • by hsmith ( 818216 ) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @08:34AM (#43169809)
    Now they can figure out who has it, before it is too late. I heard it described as "this test is like before mammograms, when a woman found out she has breast cancer It was always stage 4 at that point". Now, with a test, researchers have a better window to fight it.
  • Sigh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @08:51AM (#43169919) Homepage

    Claim of 100% accuracy.
    A Twitter full of "launch" and "pitch" announcements and not much else.
    A website that is nothing more than a placeholder.

    Yeah, they're going straight into the history books, they are.

    You want me to believe you, publish, and let people rip it apart. If the public-facing part of your whole organisation is talking of nothing more than startup awards and pitches, I don't see how you can be doing proper research, or how you can be selling it to medical establishments. And without bothering to provide evidence of either, I can only assume it's snake-oil.

  • by janek78 ( 861508 ) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @09:03AM (#43170031) Homepage

    It is very easy to make a test that detects 100% of patients who will eventually get a disease. Just make it always say "positive" and you're done. The hard thing is balancing the ability to detect a disease and avoid false negatives (sensitivity) with the ability to detect absence of disease and avoid false positives (specificity). Related to this are the positive predictive negative predictive values. Since Alzheimer's is very difficult to diagnose clinically and the only definitive proof is a biopsy/autopsy, I very much doubt a screening test would exist with a 100 % sensitivity and/or specificity.

  • by StuartHankins ( 1020819 ) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @10:50AM (#43170983)
    I would welcome the advance notice. I'd like to have a chance to get my affairs in order and do a few things before I'm unable.

    I've no time for being depressed, that would come much later. Or perhaps not, if I lived everything to the best of my ability. I could perhaps be happy and at peace.
  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) * on Thursday March 14, 2013 @11:34AM (#43171543)

    Who wants to know that they will suffer an uncurable disease well before it strikes?

    It is only incurable for now. Progress is being made. People tend to direct their charitable contributions to causes that affect them directly. So if more people know they will get Alzheimer's Disease, or someone they care about will get it, more money will be contributed towards finding a cure, rather than contributed toward, say, political campaigns or religious organizations. This is a good thing.

The moon is a planet just like the Earth, only it is even deader.