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Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Neurological Disorders Channel
Reported December 12, 2012

New Testing for Alzheimer’s


(Ivanhoe Newswire) – More than 35 million people in the world are living with Alzheimer’s disease and the prevalence of this disease is expected to double by 2030.  A recent study shows a new way to diagnose the disease.
Dr. Jeffrey R. Petrella, MD, associate professor of radiology, division of neuroradiology, and director of the Alzheimer’s disease Research Lab at Duke University Medical Center (DUMC) was quoted as saying, “Because new treatments are likely to be most effective at the earliest stages of Alzheimer's disease, there is great urgency to develop sensitive markers that facilitate detection and monitoring of early brain changes in individuals at risk.  Our study looks at whether more sophisticated diagnostic tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) and spinal fluid protein analysis might provide additional prognostic information, compared to more readily available cognitive and blood testing."
The study observed 97 patients with MCI from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, where patients are followed to track disease progression.   The Duke team analyzed MRI and FDG-PET results, along with cerebrospinal fluid proteins and compared these to cognitive outcomes at two to three years.  They found that by combining this data with routine clinical tests, the accuracy of predicting conversion to Alzheimer’s disease over clinical testing alone increased significantly.  The combined testing reduced false classifications, dropping the rates from 41.3% to 28.4%.  
"In an ideal world, you'd obtain all information available—regardless of cost or number of tests—for the best prediction of cognitive decline.  However, there's a trade-off between adding testing—some of which may add little new information—with the inconvenience, cost and risk to the patient. Though all the tests added some unique information, FDG-PET appeared to strike the best balance, adding the most prognostic information for patients with mild cognitive impairment,” Dr. Pretella was quoted as saying. 
SOURCE:  Journal of Radiology, December 2012
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