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    Blood Test May Have Power to Predict Alzheimer's

    Scientists who tested seniors say the results detected almost all of those who would develop problems


    The accuracy of the blood test neither improved nor diminished when researchers added a genetic test looking for a mutant version of the "APOE" gene that has been linked to Alzheimer's.

    In fact, they found the blood test predicted dementia with better accuracy than the APOE test alone.

    Accurate tests that can determine who will eventually develop Alzheimer's could play a key role in finding a cure for the disease, Federoff said.

    With no effective treatments yet available for Alzheimer's disease, the usefulness of an early warning test for older people remains uncertain. However, Federoff believes that existing drugs may still have promise in treating people at risk for Alzheimer's who have not yet developed the illness.

    "Will those disease-modifying therapies show promise if you use them in patients at risk for the disease, before the horse is out of the barn, when they are clinically unaffected?" Federoff asked. "Can you delay or perhaps even completely stop the progression to manifestation? I think this opens up a whole new horizon for this type of clinical research."

    Carrillo, of the Alzheimer's Association, noted, and Federoff agreed, that further research into the lipids is needed.

    "The results, while intriguing, are preliminary," Carrillo said. "They require replication and validation by other scientists in larger and more diverse populations to give them credibility, before further development for clinical use is warranted."

    The study results were published March 9 in the journal Nature Medicine.

    The study only showed an association between lower levels of the 10 body fats and an increased risk for dementia. It did not prove a cause-and-effect link.

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