The unexpected presence of the Alzheimer's disease signature in more than one-third of cognitively normal subjects suggests that Alzheimer's disease pathology is active and detectable earlier than has heretofore been envisioned," Geert De Meyer of Ghent University in Belgium and colleagues wrote.
They said measuring traces of beta amyloid and tau — two proteins associated with the telltale plaques and tangles that form in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's — accurately detected Alzheimer's in 90 percent of patients with the disease.
They were also able to detect 100 percent of people with memory impairments who would progress to Alzheimer's disease within five years. And they detected Alzheimer's proteins in 36 percent of people with normal brain function.
The study is the latest to show that measuring disease-related proteins in spinal fluid is useful in diagnosing Alzheimer's disease.Currently, only an autopsy can confirm that a person has Alzheimer's.
Researchers said on Wednesday they had found a new gene called New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase, or NDM-1, in patients in South Asia and in Britain. NDM-1 makes bacteria highly resistant to almost all antibiotics, including the most powerful class called carbapenems, and experts say there are no new drugs on the horizon to tackle it.