Thursday, 13 March 2014

Claims new blood test can detect Alzheimer's disease

reposted from: NHS Choices with a fascinating comment on biostatistics by David Colquhoun.

Quoting [unedited] the opening paras:-
"“Blood test that can predict Alzheimer's,” was the headline used by BBC News, the Daily Mail and The Guardian today. Similar coverage was seen across many of the front pages of other newspapers. 
These headlines reflected new research showing how a simple blood test may be able to detect early signs of cognitive decline and mild Alzheimer’s disease. 
US researchers discovered a panel of 10 biomarkers that, with 90% accuracy, could distinguish people who would progress to have either mild cognitive impairment or mild Alzheimer’s disease within two to three years, from those who wouldn’t. 
While promising, the results were only based on a small group of adults over 70 years old who were studied over five years. Of those who developed mild cognitive impairment or mild Alzheimer’s disease, only 28 people had the test. Consequently, it is not clear if the test has any predictive power in the wider population, is applicable to younger adults, or can predict the disease more than two to three years in advance. 
The Daily Mail outlined how, while the research was a breakthrough, experts had warned it would bring “ethical concerns”. This is an important point, because there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, so some people may prefer not to know they might get it. The current unrefined test means at least one in 10 would be wrongly told they will go on to develop the condition, given the severity of the disease, this may cause significant needless worry."
End Quote

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