Alzheimer’s Blood Test

The disease needs to be detectedas early as possible and here we have the tool that appears to make thatpossible.  There is evidence that certaintherapeutic methods can at least stave of the onset of the disease itself, evenunto the last terminal year of the disease.

This was observed in the case ofa chess master who observed changes in performance, the year before hisdeath.  It was discovered than throughautopsy that he suffered from the very late stage of the disease and hadavoided its expression for years.

So early is better and it isnever too late to take up a new hobby like chess.

The second item brings us thesame information.  Having a secondlanguage also postpones the mental effects of the disease by perhaps fouryears.

I do not know if this indicates atherapeutic action so much as an indication that intense learning efforts generategreater complexity allowing greater facility in working around failure modes.

If we are learning anything, itis that the brain is designed to work around physical damage which is prettyamazing.

Preliminary New Blood Test to Detect Alzheimer’s Disease Uncovered

Released: 2/11/2011 1:05 PM EST 

Newswise — DALLAS – Feb. 14, 2011 – UT Southwestern Medical Center scientists havehelped develop a novel technology to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease from bloodsamples long before symptoms appear.

This preliminary technology, which uses synthetic molecules to seek outand identify disease-specific antibodies, also could be used eventually in thedevelopment of specific biomarkers for a range of other hard-to-diagnosediseases and conditions, including Parkinson’s disease and immunesystem-related diseases like multiple sclerosis and lupus, the researcherspredict.

“One of the great challenges in treating patients with Alzheimer’sdisease is that once symptoms appear, it’s too late. You can’t un-ring thebell,” said Dr. Dwight German, professor of psychiatry and an author of thepaper published in the Jan. 7 edition of Cell. “If we can find a wayto detect the disease in its earliest stages – before cognitive impairmentbegins – we might be able to stop it in its tracks by developing new treatmentstrategies.”

Because patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) exhibit immune systemactivation and neurodegeneration in several brain regions, researchers in thestudy hypothesized that there may be numerous antibodies in the serum ofaffected patients that are specific to the disease and can serve as abiomarker.

Antigens – substances such as protein from a virus or bacteria thattriggers an immune response – traditionally have been necessary for thediscovery of antibody biomarkers. It has been impossible previously to identifyan antibody (a type of targeted immune molecule) without first knowing theantigen that triggers its production.

The new study, however, challenges conventional wisdom and usessynthetic molecules (peptoids) rather than antigens to successfully detectsigns of disease in patients’ blood samples. These peptoids have manyadvantages; they can be modified easily and can be produced quickly inrelatively large amounts at lower cost.

The adaptive immune system is thought to be a rich source of proteinbiomarkers, but diagnostically useful antibodies remain undiscovered for alarge number of diseases, Dr. German said. This is, in part, because theantigens that trigger an immune response in many diseases are unknown. Thetechnology behind this discovery is essentially an immune-system reader, whichis designed to pick out antibodies without knowing in advance which ones tolook for.
The researchers used a combination library of several thousand peptoidsto screen serum samples from mice with multiple sclerosis-like symptoms as wellas from healthy control mice. The particular peptoids that retained moreantibodies from the blood samples of the diseased animals were identified aspotential agents for capturing diagnostically useful molecules.

The investigators then examined serum samples from six AD patients, sixhealthy patients and six patients with Parkinson’s. Three peptoids wereidentified that captured six times the IgG antibody levels in all of theAlzheimer’s patients when compared to the control group or to the Parkinson’spatients. Two of the peptoids were found to bind the same IgG antibody, whilethe third was shown to bind to different antibodies – meaning there are atleast two candidate biomarkers for AD. Using an additional set of 16 normalcontrol subjects and 10 subjects at the very early state of AD, the threecandidate biomarkers identified AD with 90 percent accuracy.

“The results of this study, though preliminary, show great potentialfor becoming a landmark,” said Dr. German.

Other UT Southwestern researchers involved in the study were Dr. RamonDiaz-Arrastia, professor of neurology and neurotherapeutics; Steven Connell,research technician; and Dr. Linda Hynan, professor of clinical sciences. Othersinclude senior author and former UT Southwestern faculty member Dr. ThomasKodadek, now at Scripps Florida Research Institute; Dr. Anne Gocke, formerpostdoctoral fellow in translational medicine; and researchers with Opko HealthLaboratories.

Funding was provided by the National Institutes of Health.

Visit tolearn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in neurosciences,including psychiatry.

This news release is available on our World Wide Web home page at 

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Learning a Second Language Protects Against Alzheimer's

By Clara Moskowitz , LiveScience Senior Writer – Wed, 23 Feb, 2011

Scientists closing in on Alzheimer's tests

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Want to protect against the effects ofAlzheimer's? Learn another language.

That's the takeaway from recent brain research, which shows that bilingualpeople's brains function better and for longer after developing thedisease.

Psychologist Ellen Bialystok and her colleagues at York Universityin Torontorecently tested about 450 patients who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.Half of these patients were bilingual, and half spoke only one language.

While all the patients had similar levels of cognitive impairment,the researchers found that those who were bilingual had been diagnosed withAlzheimer's about four years later, on average, than those who spoke just onelanguage. And the bilingual people reported their symptoms had begun about fiveyears later than those who spoke only one language.

"What we've been able to show is that in these patients… all ofwhom have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and are all at the same level ofimpairment, the bilinguals on average are four to five years older — whichmeans that they've been able to cope with the disease," Bialystok said.

She presented her findings today (Feb. 18) here at the annual meetingof the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Some results ofthis research were published in the Nov. 9, 2010 issue of the journalNeurology.

CT brain scans of the Alzheimer's patients showed that, among patientswho are functioning at the same level, those who are bilingual have moreadvanced brain deterioration than those who spoke just one language. But thisdifference wasn't apparent from the patients' behaviors, or their abilities tofunction. The bilingual people acted like monolingual patients whose diseasewas less advanced.

"Once the disease begins to compromise this region of the brain,bilinguals can continue to function," Bialystok said. "Bilingualism isprotecting older adults, even after Alzheimer's disease is beginning to affectcognitive function."

The researchers think this protection stems from brain differences betweenthose speak one language and thosewho speak more than one. In particular, studies show bilingual peopleexercise a brain network called the executive control system more. Theexecutive control system involves parts of the prefrontal cortex andother brain areas, and is the basis of our ability to think in complex ways, Bialystok said.

"It's the most important part of your mind," she said."It controls attention and everything we think of as uniquely humanthought."

Bilingual people, the theory goes, constantly have to exercise thisbrain system to prevent their two languages from interfering with one another.Their brains must sort through multiple options for each word, switch back andforth between the two languages, and keep everything straight.

And all this work seems to confer a cognitive benefit — an ability tocope when the going gets tough and the brain is besieged with adisease such as Alzheimer's.

"It's not that being bilingual prevents the disease," Bialystok toldMyHealthNewsDaily. Instead, she explained, it allows those who developAlzheimer's to deal with it better.

Moreover, other research suggests that these benefits of bilingualismapply not only to those who are raised from birth speaking a secondlanguage, but also to people who take up a foreign tongue later in life.

"The evidence that we have is not only with very earlybilinguals," said psychologist Teresa Bajo of the University of Granada inSpain, who was not involvedin Bialystok'sresearch. "Even late bilinguals use these very same processes so they mayhave also the very same advantages."
This article was provided by MyHealthNewsDaily, asister site to LiveScience.

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