Here's a story from the ever popular Dr. Dean Edell at KGO (ABC-Disney) in San Francisco, home of the SF 49ers and the Cal Bears (Go Bears knock off the USC Trojans again (this time in tinseltown) just like last season.

New Blood Test For Alzheimer's
Aug. 17 - Currently, the only definitive test for Alzheimer's disease is an autopsy. So to diagnose early Alzheimer's, doctors are stuck using a series of physical and cognitive exams. But as Dr. Dean Edell reports, there's a promising new way to identify Alzheimer's using a simple blood test.

Neurobiologists have developed a blood test they hope will lead to early diagnosis and more effective treatment. The blood test measures levels of two antibodies.

Jerry Bucchafusco, PhD, pharmacologist: "The Alzheimer's individuals have between three and five fold higher levels of these antibodies."

The antibodies develop when the immune system responds to a combination of proteins linked to Alzheimer's. During the study, researchers looked at blood samples in 75 people with the disease and without, and conducted memory tests.

Jerry Bucchafusco, PhD, pharmacologist: "The blood sample was used to determine the levels of these particular antibodies, and the cognitive testing was done to determine how far along their disease was."

A year later, researchers did the same thing. And they found something incredibly significant in those with Alzheimer's - even though their memory had declined, their levels of antibodies were the same. This suggests the antibodies are present well before symptoms are seen. This could be critical for effective treatment.

Jerry Bucchafusco, PhD, pharmacologist: "The earlier you diagnose that patient, the better chance you have of slowing that process. Most of the patients that come in for treatment come in so far advanced for this disease that the drugs that we have right now are not very effective."

The hope is patients can be tested during standard medical visits.

Kathleen Wilson, MD, neurologist: "If it provides a simple blood test for Alzheimer disease and we develop treatment for it, which we are in the process of doing, then you could have this test done at midlife and initiate aggressive treatment to prevent it."

The study also provides promise for new drugs that attack the antibodies. Some are already in clinical trials to see if they delay the onset of Alzheimer's.

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