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Today, we'll explore A Potential Diagnostic Test for Alzheimer's Disease.

Among the joys of retirement are waking up late, avoiding bad commutes and time to travel.

But there's a flip side - getting older also brings greater health risks and among the most frightening is Alzheimer's disease.

Today about 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease - more than double the number in 1980. One in 8 people 65 and nearly half of those over 85 are affected.

Alzheimer's Disease is a progressive brain disorder that gradually destroys a person's memory and ability to learn, reason, communicate and carry out daily activities. As Alzheimer's progresses, individuals may also experience changes in personality and behavior, such as anxiety, suspiciousness or agitation, as well as delusions or hallucinations.

There is no definitive test to diagnose Alzheimer's. Doctors rely on symptoms and only an autopsy can confirm this diagnosis. It's particularly difficult to differentiate Alzheimer's from other forms of dementia.

But all that could change if a new technology pans out: it's called Proteomics. Researchers at New York's Cornell Medical College used Proteomics and discovered that a pattern of 23 proteins in the cerebral spinal fluid may identify people with Alzheimer's. This pattern of proteins may represent biomarkers of Alzheimer's which, if true - could be used to diagnose this enigmatic disease.

Proteomics holds much promise because it allows researchers to monitor changes in the number and kinds of proteins associated with a whole variety of diseases and is at the cutting edge of today's biomedical research.

If this new test does prove to diagnose Alzheimer's reliably, patients can get effective care and support from the start which means better quality of life.

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MedlinePlus brings together authoritative information from NLM, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other government agencies and health-related organizations. This site is an excellent starting place for gathering information about a wide range of medical issues including Alzheimer 's disease.
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National Institute on Aging (NIA) provides leadership in aging research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs relevant to aging and older people. NIA is also the primary Federal agency on Alzheimer's disease research whose mission is to improve the health and well-being of older Americans through research, training and the dissemination of information.
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For those physicians and scientists that may be looking at this page, there is a review in the J Clin Psychiatry. 2006 Apr;67(4):650-1. entitled "Genetics, transcriptomics, and proteomics of Alzheimer's disease." By Papassotiropoulos and others that might be of interest.
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For non scientists, a very nice interactive introduction of proteomics can be found at Chidren's Hospital, Boston's website.
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