Friday, December 6 2013 8:51 PM EST2013-12-07 01:51:42 GMT
Cancellations for church services, child care services and community events due to wintry weather. This is separate from Snow Fox school and large business closings listed on the home page.More >>
Running list of cancellations for church services, child care services and community events due to wintry weather. This is separate from Snow Fox school and large business closings also prominent on the home page here.More >>
Follow the WDRB Newsroom, Reporters and Anchors.More >>
Tweets from the WDRB Newsroom, Reporters and Anchors.More >>
ATLANTA (FOX) -- Medical researchers may have found a way to identify people with Alzheimer's a decade before they get it.
It's the cruelest of diseases, slowly robbing patients of their memories, their personality and, ultimately, their lives. No cure -- not even an effective treatment.
But new research out of John Hopkins could change the future for millions of people who have yet to develop Alzheimer's.
"We were able to predict potential cognitive decline about six years before it began to develop," said Marilyn Albert, professor of neurology at John Hopkins University School of Medicine.
The Hopkins team tested cerebrospinal fluid in 265 middle-age people who had a family history of Alzheimer's, but showed no symptoms.
They measured the proteins associated with the classic plaques and tangles that decimate the brain and found they could predict with amazing accuracy who would go on to develop Alzheimer's years later.
"In the future, that's what we're aiming for. That you would be able to have a test done, and take a drug that would reduce your risk for developing symptoms and keep you normal for as long as possible," Albert said.
Currently in the U.S., 5.2 million people suffer from Alzheimer's. That number is expected to triple by 2050.
This year, the direct cost of caring for them will top $203 billion -- including more than 100 billion to Medicare.
A predictive test that could allow early intervention would be groundbreaking, says Dr. William Hu, an Alzheimer's specialist at the Emory Clinic.
"If we can delay AZD onset by about 5 years, we can really reduce the prevalence of AZD by about half. And that's going to be half the people who have AZD now essentially cured," Hu said.
One problem: there are no drugs at present that effectively treat the plaques and tangles, though new ones are in the pipeline.
But it would allow doctors to use other therapies -- exercise, diet and brain training -- to keep the mind as healthy as possible until pharmaceuticals catch up.
The research reinforces the new belief that Alzheimer's disease has three stages, including one where the person appears absolutely healthy.
The ability to identify patients in that earliest stage could be a game-changer.