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Intouch : In Touch Autumn 2012
10 IN TOUCH AUTUMN 2012 RESEARCH RECENT FINDINGS BETTER TREATMENTS, EARLIER DIAGNOSES, LOWER RISK -- RESEARCHERS AROUND THE WORLD ARE WORKING HARD FOR ALL THREE. A STEP CLOSER TO IDENTIFYING ALZHEIMER'S BIOMARKERS Swedish researchers have identifed three possible biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease. The levels of the three cerebrospinal fuid biomarkers (total tau, phosphorylated tau and beta amyloid) of 137 patients who had already been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment were tested, with follow-up ten years later. At follow up, 90 per cent of those who had originally had pathologic levels of the cerebrospinal fuid biomarkers had developed Alzheimer's disease. Source: Archives of General Psychiatry. 2012;69(1):98-106. DISCUSS THE SCIENCE: BIOMARKERS Biomarkers are chemical or biological signatures indicating the presence of a disease. Testing for biomarkers is often an inexpensive, non-invasive method of identifying people at risk of a disease, or helping to confrm a diagnosis. Alzheimer's disease researchers are particularly interested in identifying the biomarkers that can be detected in the very early stages of the disease, even before symptoms arise. Biomarkers are commonly identifed by comparing blood or tissue samples from healthy individuals with samples from individuals with the disease in question. Testing for biomarkers never guarantees a 100 per cent accurate diagnosis; two main types of errors can occur. False positives occur when an individual tests positive for the biomarker but doesn’t have the disease, and false negatives occur when an individual tests negative with the biomarker but does have the disease. Scientists aim to produce accurate biomarkers that provide reliable results. A biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease could enable diagnosis before symptoms appear, and provide opportunities for researchers to test treatments that could be used earlier in the disease. NOW RECRUITING A new medication, designed for use in conjunction with an existing donepezil (Aricept) program, is being trialled in fve states as part of an international study. Researchers are calling for participants who are: • over 55 years of age • diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease • on a stable dose of donepezil • able to attend clinical visits with a carer Over the course of nine and a half months, participants will be given daily doses of either the new drug or a placebo, and will attend regular clinical visits to monitor the effect of the drug. Recruitment ends 31 March. To fnd out more or to participate, contact the study hotline. T: 1800 884 271 SYMPTOMS DISMISSED AS OLD AGE A Canadian survey of carers of people with dementia has highlighted the need to improve public awareness about dementia in order to achieve timely diagnoses. The survey found that 44 per cent of people with dementia waited more than a year to see their doctors after symptoms appeared, and that 16 per cent waited two or more years because symptoms were dismissed as signs of old age. The fndings of the survey also indicate the importance of the role of family doctors in diagnoses of dementia, with 83 per cent of respondents visiting their family doctor frst after noticing symptoms of dementia, and half of these respondents had dementia diagnosed by their family doctor. Source: Alzheimer’s Society Canada
In Touch Summer 2011-12
In Touch Winter 2012