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Alzheimer's Predictions

Researchers from King's College London, Proteome Sciences, and elsewhere have uncovered a set of 10 plasma proteins that are associated with the progression and severity of Alzheimer's disease.

As Simon Lovestone, now at Oxford University, and his colleagues report in Alzheimer's & Dementia this week, they examined 26 candidate proteins in a cohort of 1,148 people, including cognitively healthy elderly people, people with mild cognitive impairment, and people with Alzheimer's disease, using multiplex xMAP assays.

Ten of those 26 candidate proteins, they found, could "prospectively predict disease conversion from MCI to AD within a year of blood sampling." The test, the BBC notes, could predict that progression with 87 percent accuracy.

Still, the news service cautions that the test isn't yet ready for doctors' offices.

"Lots of blood tests said to be the next big thing haven't come to anything — we have to replicate these results with larger numbers," Lovestone tells the New Scientist.

The test, though, could be used to identify patients for clinical trials, the researchers say.

"Having a blood test is a really big step forward," co-author Ian Pike from Proteome Sciences adds. "The most important thing we can do is get the correct patients into clinical trials so we can tell, for example, whether it is a drug that is slowing the progression of the disease or the fact that we just happen to have a group of patients who have a slow progressing form of the disease."