Amounts of certain proteins in the blood could tip off doctors to nascent Alzheimer's disease in people who don't yet show clear symptoms of the illness, researchers report.
The beginnings of Alzheimer's resemble the occasional forgetfulness and slight cognitive loss that come with normal aging, making the disease difficult to diagnose at a point when treatment might be most helpful. Tony Wyss-Coray of Stanford University and his colleagues reasoned that the quantities of certain proteins that carry information between cells might provide a diagnostic marker of Alzheimer's disease. Earlier research had suggested that protein markers could aid Alzheimer's diagnosis, but those analyses required tapping into spinal fluid—an invasive procedure (SN: 2/18/06, p. 102). Now, Wyss-Coray and his team have designed a protein test that requires only a blood sample.