New Alzheimer’s Guidelines in San Diego CA Aim For Early Diagnosis

New Alzheimer’s Guidelines Aim For Early Diagnosis

By: Kate Kelland

(Reuters) – Experts on Alzheimer’s disease are proposing new criteria for diagnosing the dementia which would pick it up at an earlier stage and should get more patients onto treatment or into trials of new drugs.

An international expert group said the new guidelines would revise the definition of Alzheimer’s to take into account recent scientific developments – including the use of so-called biomarkers, or biological signals, which can show if a person is at risk of the disease before they have any symptoms.

This pre-clinical stage, which can be about 10 years before dementia sets in, is widely seen as the best time to intervene in Alzheimer’s. Recent studies have shown that brain scans, spinal fluid analyses and other tests can help predict who will develop Alzheimer’s and they are becoming crucial to researchers and drug firms trying to develop new treatments.

"It’s very important for us to move from the old way of seeing Alzheimer’s disease to a new one that incorporates the importance of biomarkers," said Bruno Dubois from France’s Salpetriere Hospital.

"There is no longer a reason to wait until patients have developed full-blown dementia," said Dubois, who leads the International Working Group for New Research Criteria for the Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, is a fatal brain disease in which people gradually lose their memories and their abilities to reason and care for themselves. It affects more than 26 million people globally and there is no cure.

A report last month said the worldwide costs of coping with dementia will reach $604 billion in 2010, more than one percent of global GDP output, and those costs will soar further as the number of sufferers triples by 2050.

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