(10-14) 10:16 PDT Stanford -
-- Researchers at Stanford University have developed a potentially pathbreaking blood test that, according to preliminary studies, is able to identify patients with Alzheimer's disease - an ailment that has been notoriously difficult to diagnose.
The test has also shown promise in predicting which patients with mild memory loss are at high risk of developing the dreaded syndrome, which kills 66,000 Americans each year and inflicts incalculable heartache on the families of its victims.
Scientists have been working for years without success to develop a simple way to diagnose Alzheimer's disease, a degenerative brain disease that saps memory, sows confusion and will eventually kill patients who may have lost the ability to speak, walk or swallow.
In a paper published Sunday in the online edition of the British journal Nature Medicine, a team of scientists led by Stanford neurology Professor Tony Wyss-Coray describe a unique method that can spot Alzheimer's patients by screening for a set of 18 chemical signals that consistently turn up in the blood of people suffering from the disease.