Researchers from the University of Nottingham in the U.K. say their test looks for a combination of markers in the blood that wave red flags for the neurodegenerative illness. These flags include amyloids, the misfolded proteins that can accumulate in plaques in the brain; apolipoprotein E, or ApoE, a variant of which is linked to Alzheimer’s; and other proteins linked to inflammation.
“Our findings are exciting because they show that it is technically possible to distinguish between healthy people and those with Alzheimer’s using a blood test,” University of Nottingham professor Kevin Morgan told the BBC. “As blood tests are a fast and easy way of aiding diagnosis, we are really encouraged by these findings and the potential they hold for the future.”
But don’t hold your breath: it could be 10 years or more before the test is available to patients.
When the test does become available, it could be used to screen people for the disease long before symptoms appear.
“The way we see it working is you can test people and it will tell them if they have the all-clear, or if they are medium- or high-risk,” Morgan told the BBC. “If they are medium-risk, they can be monitored closely and high-risk patients can be referred to a specialist for more in-depth testing.”
Meanwhile, a cure for Alzheimer’s is still a long way off.
“We’ve had a lot of failures in Alzheimer’s drugs. But you learn from them,” Guy Eakin, vice president of scientific affairs at the American Health Assistance Foundation, said last May.
In May 2012, federal officials announced the start of the first clinical trial of a drug aimed at actually preventing – not just treating or curing — Alzheimer’s disease.
The trial – a $100 million collaboration between the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the Arizona-based Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, drug giant Genentech and the University of Antioquia in Colombia between — approaches the disease from an unusual angle. Instead of testing drugs on patients with full-blown dementia, the trial focuses on around 300 people in the U.S. and Colombia that carry a genetic mutation that usually triggers Alzheimer’s symptoms around age 45. Most of the study subjects are from a single large extended family.
Prevention efforts for Alzheimer’s focus on a mutation that affects the gene PSEN1, which is involved in the production amyloid protein. Clumps of beta amyloid proteins, known as plaques, and smaller aggregations of amyloid known as ‘ligomers’ are thought to play a key role in Alzheimer’s disease when they build up in the brain.
Crenezumab, the drug being tested, is an antibody that binds to beta amyloid and helps clear out those excessive deposits.
Still wonderfully relaxing, plus you don’t die horribly
Quantum Fags were developed by scientists who believe passionately that cigarettes were killing the wrong people, as non-smokers are generally more annoying.
They developed nicotine particles that can exist simultaneously in two places at once.
The pleasure-giving chemicals remaining within the smokers’ lungs while the deadly stuff teleports into the nearest non-smoker, making them cough terribly.
Professor Henry Brubaker of the Institute for Studies said: “Someone who hasn’t smoked their whole life, and more to the point wouldn’t hesitate to tell you about it, will find themselves wheezing like a dinner lady.
“Thus society can remove its priggish killjoys by furiously smoking them to death whilst having a bloody good time in the process.”
Smoker Roy Hobbs said: “I have always felt it was unfair that smoking kills you. Much better that a total stranger should die.
“Will their fingers turn yellow? That would be really clever.”
THE threat of unemployment since the recession has led to a decline in men’s mental health, a study suggests.
The authors, who wanted to examine whether the recession had an impact on levels of anxiety and depression, analysed data concerning 107,000 people taken from the annual Health Survey for England for adults aged 25 to 64, between 1991 and 2010.
Their findings, published in the online journal BMJ Open, show that rates of poor mental health were highest between 1991 and 1993, when the UK was in recession, after which they fell steadily until 2004.
The rates then started to gradually rise until 2008, at which point they rose sharply.
In 2008, when the downturn began, the prevalence of people suffering from anxiety and depression was 13.7%, but the figure rose to 16.4% in 2009 and fell to 15.5% in 2010.
Men appeared to be worst affected. The rate of poor mental health in men rose from 11.3% in 2008 to 16.6% in 2009. In women, the rate only increased by 0.2%, to 16.2%.
The authors concluded: “The finding that mental health across the general population has deteriorated following the recession’s onset, and (that) this association does not appear to be limited to those out of employment nor those whose household income has declined, has important implications.
“Previous research has highlighted the importance of job insecurity, rather than solely employment status, as potentially resulting in adverse effects on mental health.
“One potential explanation for our results would be that job insecurity during the current recession is responsible for the deterioration in mental health, with men’s psychological health remaining more affected by economic fluctuations despite greater female labour market participation.”
Justine Schneider, professor of mental health and social care at the University of Nottingham, said: “It’s long been recognised that the impact on mental health of job insecurity is worse than that of joblessness, these recent analyses confirm that the threat of unemployment is in itself harmful.
“When people lose their jobs they react in different ways; some people thrive and this offsets the average impact. Young people however are particularly badly affected by unemployment, which seems to reduce their self-esteem and increase the risk of depression.”
Dr Amy Chandler, research fellow at the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships at the University of Edinburgh, said: “This new analysis provides further support to theories that suggest that men – more than women – might be affected negatively by unstable job markets and rising prices.
“An interesting addition to current knowledge is the authors’ finding that this decline in mental health was also apparent among men who were employed, whereas previously much has been made of the association between unemployment and poor mental health among men.
“This suggests that there should be acknowledgement that recession can impact negatively upon men in general, whether in employment or not.”
– Ella Pickover