Biomarkers promise to revolutionize Alzheimer's research

A slate of new biomarkers developed to diagnose Alzheimer's at an early stage may revolutionize drug development work in the field. After years of study investigators have concluded that the dementia associated with the disease comes at the end of a lengthy process. But biomarkers that can be detected through brain scans, MRIs and spinal taps present a new opportunity to identify the disease early on, creating a big opening to slow or even stop disease progression before it blights a patient's life.

New guidelines are being developed that will divide the disease into three distinct categories: preclinical stage, mild cognitive impairment and late-stage dementia. The goal, according to an article in the New York Times, is to identify a preclinical patient in his 50s with biomarker tests that will be provided for everyone in that demographic group.

"This is a major advance," Dr. John Morris, an Alzheimer's expert, tells the Times. "We used to say we did not know for certain it was Alzheimer's until the brain is examined on autopsy."

"This has implications for everybody alive, anybody who is getting older," says Duke's Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy.

- here's the article from the New York Times

ALSO: Bloomberg covers Eli Lilly's ambitious slate of clinical trials for new Alzheimer's drugs, which rely heavily on reducing the level of plaque in the brain--a key biomarker for the disease. Story

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