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Before the Dementia Strikes

New guidelines for the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease are to be released today by the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer's Association, reports The New York Times. The new definition breaks the disease down into three stages: when dementia has set in, when there are symptoms, but the person can still perform daily tasks, and when there are not yet symptoms, but changes are occurring in the person's brain. That early, symptom-free stage would be assessed through biomarkers. The Times does note that use of biomarkers to diagnose Alzheimer's isn't yet recommended for widespread use, just for clinical trials. Scientists don't yet know "what measure is truly abnormal and what measure is not," says Marilyn Albert, from the Johns Hopkins Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, and who helped developed the new guidelines. A bill has also been proposed in the US to create Medicare cost codes for an Alzheimer's diagnosis, before it develops into dementia.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.