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Blood test may predict Alzheimer's

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A simple blood test may be able to predict who will get Alzheimer's disease several years before symptoms develop.

Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center followed 525 mentally healthy seniors for several years. Some went on to develop mental impairment. The researchers then went back to see if there was something in their blood that could have predicted the dementia.

"There was a small number of circulating blood fats, lipids, which were able to predict at the time of entry. When cognitively normal, those individuals who would go on to become cognitively impaired," said Dr. Howard Federoff, Prof. Neurology & Neuroscience at Georgetown University Medical Center.

The blood test was able to estimate with more than 90 percent accuracy if a person would develop mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's disease within three years.   

"Being able to ask the question -- does an intervention or a therapy work to delay progression," Dr. Federoff said.   Several members of Cappy Friedman's family have had Alzheimer's disease. The 84 year-old took part in the study. Participants were not told the results. She would want to have the test if it were available.  "I think it's important for people to be involved in. Especially those with a family history," Friedman said.

Experts say more research is needed to confirm the results of the test in larger groups of people -- and that could take years.

Danielle Nottingham - CBS News

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