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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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New Diagnostic Criteria for Alzheimer's Include Brain Scans and Spinal Taps
14 July 2010 2:53 pm
Most Alzheimer's disease (AD) researchers agree that the disease starts ravaging the brain years, if not decades, before the first symptoms of forgetfulness appear. New criteria, proposed yesterday at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Honolulu, would shift the diagnosis earlier in the course of the disease. A major motivation for catching AD in its earliest stages is the belief that treatments will be most effective then.
The recommendations, put together by work groups of researchers organized by the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer's Association, build on recent research with neuroimaging and other biomarkers that appear to pick up early signs of the disease. The recommendations define full-blown Alzheimer's dementia more precisely and create two new diagnostic categories to describe earlier stages of the disease.
The first is a "preclinical AD" designation that would require three criteria: evidence of accumulation of amyloid-β (the peptide suspected to be the culprit in neurodegeneration) from PET brain scans or spinal fluid samples, evidence from neuroimaging or spinal fluid samples of synaptic dysfunction or early stages of neurodegeneration, and signs of subtle cognitive decline. This preclinical designation is not intended for clinical use, only for research, including clinical trials for drugs to prevent full-blown AD.
The second designation would be used clinically: "mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to AD." Patients who meet the criteria for this diagnosis would exhibit a noticeable decline in memory or other cognitive functions but would still be reasonably able to function independently. The proposal contains recommendations for clinicians on how to use neuroimaging and spinal fluid biomarkers to determine whether the impairment is due to incipient AD or to some other cause, although it acknowledges that research in this area is still ongoing.
"We're finally now developing the tools to detect AD pathology in the brain and predict cognitive declines," says Michael Weiner an Alzheimer's researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved in drafting the recommendations. Weiner says the new recommendations are "a very, very important step" that will aid the development of drugs to prevent AD and will help families by giving them more time to plan for the care of a loved one with the disease.