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Blood Test Could ID Alzheimer's Patients

LaPook--'Fingerprint' For Alzheimer's
Researchers at Stanford University say they have developed a potentially pathbreaking blood test that could help to identify patients with Alzheimer's disease.

According to a paper published in the online edition of the British journal Nature Medicine, preliminary studies by a team of scientists led by a Stanford neurology professor show the test is yielding promising results in predicting which patients with mild memory loss are at high risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

In a study of 259 blood samples, the test identified early markers for Alzheimer's with 90 percent accuracy, reports CBS News correspondent John Blackstone.

Today only an autopsy can establish for sure that a patient had Alzheimer's. Brain scans and spinal taps are helpful but they're not certain.

There is still plenty of lab work to be done, more rigorous research before it's proven a simple blood test can diagnose Alzheimer's, but those working on the test are hopeful it can be approved for use by 2009, adds Blackstone.

Currently, an early Alzheimer's diagnosis requires complex brain scans. Spinal fluid can also reveal the disease but that can be a difficult and painful test.