Los Angeles, Jul 16 (AP/UNB) — Scientists are closing in on a long-sought goal — a blood test to screen people for possible signs of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.
On Monday at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference, half a dozen research groups gave new results on various experimental tests, including one that seems 88% accurate at indicating Alzheimer's risk.
Doctors are hoping for something to use during routine exams, where most dementia symptoms are evaluated, to gauge who needs more extensive testing. Current tools such as brain scans and spinal fluid tests are too expensive or impractical for regular check-ups.
"We need something quicker and dirtier. It doesn't have to be perfect" to be useful for screening, said Maria Carrillo, the Alzheimer's Association's chief science officer.
Dr. Richard Hodes, director of the National Institute on Aging, called the new results "very promising" and said blood tests soon will be used to choose and monitor people for federally funded studies, though it will take a little longer to establish their value in routine medical care.
"In the past year we've seen a dramatic acceleration in progress" on these tests, he said. "This has happened at a pace that is far faster than any of us would have expected."
It can't come too soon for patients like Tom Doyle, a 66-year-old former university professor from Chicago who has had two spinal fluid tests since developing memory problems four years ago. First he was told he didn't have Alzheimer's, then that he did. He ultimately was diagnosed with different problems — Lewy body dementia with Parkinson's.
"They probably could have diagnosed me years ago accurately if they had had a blood test," said Doyle, who represents patients on the Alzheimer's Association's board.
About 50 million people worldwide have dementia, and Alzheimer's is the most common form. There is no cure; current medicines just temporarily ease symptoms. Dozens of hoped-for treatments have failed. Doctors think studies may have enrolled people after too much brain damage had occurred and included too many people with problems other than Alzheimer's.
A blood test — rather than subjective estimates of thinking skills — could get the right people into studies sooner.
One of the experimental blood tests measures abnormal versions of the protein that forms the plaques in the brain that are the hallmark of Alzheimer's. Last year, Japanese researchers published a study of it and on Monday they gave results from validation testing on 201 people with Alzheimer's, other types of dementia, mild impairment or no symptoms.
The blood test results closely matched those from the top tests used now — three types of brain scans and a mental assessment exam, said Dr. Akinori Nakamura of the National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology in Obu, Japan. The test correctly identified 92% of people who had Alzheimer's and correctly ruled out 85% who did not have it, for an overall accuracy of 88%.
Shimadzu Corp. has rights to the test and is working to commercialize it, Nakamura said.
Another experimental test looks at neurofilament light, a protein that's a marker of nerve damage. Abdul Hye of King's College London gave results of a study comparing blood levels of it in 2,300 people with various neurological conditions — Alzheimer's, other dementias, Parkinson's, depression, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease — plus healthy folks for comparison.
Levels were significantly higher in eight conditions, and only 2% of healthy folks were above a threshold they set for raising concern. The test doesn't reveal which disorder someone has, but it may help rule one out when symptoms may be psychological or due to other problems.
Later at the conference, Dr. Randall Bateman of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis will give new results on a blood test he helped develop that the university has patented and licensed to C2N Diagnostics, a company he co-founded. Like the Japanese test, it measures the abnormal Alzheimer protein, and the new results will show how well the test reflects what brain scans show on nearly 500 people.
"Everyone's finding the same thing ... the results are remarkably similar across countries, across techniques," said Bateman, whose work is supported by the U.S. government and the Alzheimer's Association. He estimates a screening test could be as close as three years away.
What good will that do without a cure?
An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll last year found that most Americans would want to know if they carried a gene tied to a disease even if it was incurable.
"What people want most of all is a diagnosis" if they're having symptoms, said Jonathan Schott of University College London. "What we don't like is not knowing what's going on."
Dhaka, July 15 (UNB) - icddr,b’s globally recognised diagnostic centre at Mohakhali on Monday started providing round-the-clock services.
This will inevitably distribute the patient volume throughout the day and effectively reduce the waiting time for them, icddr,b said on Monday.
icddr,b laboratories are the only labs in Bangladesh accredited under International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 15189 (quality and competence) and ISO 15190 (safety) for 400+ different tests and parameters.
Senior Director, Laboratory Sciences and Services Division at icddr,b Dr Niyaz Ahmed said while this extension of operation will cost them additional resources, they would like to make their services more accessible to all walks of life.
“Our highly skilled, dedicated scientists and clinicians, along with state-of-the-art laboratories will now be able to serve more patients with high quality diagnosis which they have always been relied on.”
Sydney, July 12 (Xinhua/UNB)-- An Australian study has revealed that eating a high fiber diet during pregnancy could dramatically reduce the risk of preeclampsia, a serious illness which the study has also shown could lead to allergies and autoimmune illnesses in babies later in life.
Researchers from the University of Sydney's (UoS) Charles Perkins Centre, the Barwon Infant Study from Deakin University, Monash University, James Cook University and the Australian National University released the joint study on Wednesday.
Senior author, Professor Ralph Nanan from UoS told Xinhua that the link between diet and preeclampsia is due to acetate, a compound produced in the gut bacteria of mothers as they process fiber.
Currently, preeclampsia occurs in up to 10 percent of pregnancies and symptoms include high blood pressure, protein in the urine and severe swelling in the mother, frequently leading to preterm deliveries.
The first revelation of the study was to directly link acetate with mothers who develop preeclampsia.
"We measured acetate levels in (a group of pregnant women) and we found that mothers who developed preeclampsia have significantly lower levels of acetate than mothers who are healthy," Nanan said.
Then, through experiments on mice, the researchers showed that the development of an important immune organ called the thymus was greatly reduced but could be rescued through the acetate.
"Babies from preeclamptic pregnancies have a smaller organ, an immune organ called the thymus which sits behind your breastbone," Nanan explained.
"And the thymus is actually a very important immune organ because it produces cells which prevent allergies and autoimmune disease."
"So what this means is that we now have a mechanism to understand why a diet low in fiber, like the Western diet, is associated with more allergies and autoimmune disease later in life," he said.
Based on the research Nanan recommends pregnant women maintain a diet high in plant-based and unprocessed foods, which he said is likely to be better for health anyway.
"Eat real food, not processed food, it should mainly be plant-based, a bit of meat and a bit of fish but mostly plant-based and not too much," he said.
Nanan added that the Chinese diet which tends to include a lot of vegetables and unprocessed foods is better than the western diet which includes a high amount of preservatives.
The team responsible for the study hope that further research will confirm the link between fiber and preeclampsia and could lead to prevention of the disease as well as reduced instances of allergies and autoimmune disease later in life.
Dhaka, July 11 (UNB)- Some 80-90% of world population have been suffering from Vitamin D deficiency but mostly ignored and undiagnosed.
The main source of Vitamin D is ultraviolet ray from sunlight while sea-fish, cod liver oil, beef liver, egg yolk, milk, butter, cheese, mushroom and fortified food products like cereals, bread, yoghurt and oatmeal are food sources.
The people stay in houses and deprived of sunlight and women covered with ‘burka’, ‘hijab’ have the risk of vitamin-D deficiency.
The data and observation were disclosed at a seminar on Vitamin D deficiency held at Kurmitola General Hospital (KGH) in the city on Thursday, said a press release of Inter Service Public Relation (ISPR) Directorate.
Prof Dr Brig Gen Md Abdur Razzak, Head of Medicine Department, Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC) and Asst Prof Dr Md Abdullahel Kafee, Dept. of Medicine, KGH spoke in the seminar jointly organized by Dept. of Medicine, Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC) and Kurmitola General Hospital (KGH).
Maj Gen Md Fashiur Rahman, Director General Medical Services attended the seminar as chief guest, while Maj Gen Md Azizul Islam, Consultant Physician General was present as special guest with Maj Gen Md Mustafizur Rahman, Commandant of the AFMC in the chair.
Brig Gen Quazi Md Rashid-Un-Nabi, Director of the KGH delivered the welcome speech at the seminar.
Highlighting the various aspects of Vitamin D, speakers said, the main role of Vitamin D is to increase calcium absorption from the gut and bone formation. It has also immunomodulatory and anti-cancer effects, they added.
Lack of sun exposure, using sunscreen or clothing covering the whole body (Veil, Burka, Hijab, Niqab etc.), strict vegetarian diet and lack of Vitamin D containing food are responsible for Vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D deficiency causes Ricket in children and Osteomalacia among adults. Other health hazards are backache, myalgia, muscle weakness, increased chance of cancer, immunological diseases (SLE, Rheumatoid Arthritis), infection, dental problem, neuropsychiatric disorders (Dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinsonism, Multiple Sclerosis, Schizophrenia) and feto-maternal complications.
The speakers said, the health awareness, lifestyle modification, sun exposure, intake of Vitamin D containing food can solve the problem easily.
They also emphasised the preventive aspects for the Vitamin D deficiency.
The doctors of KGH, Heads of the departments of AFMC, senior officials from Dhaka CMH were present at the seminar.
Newly passed Intern doctors of AFMC, currently working in CMH, Dhaka and KGH were given reception at the program which was sponsored by Beximco Pharmaceuticals Limited.
Dhaka, July 11 (UNB) - Exposure to outdoor air pollution is linked to decreased lung function and an increased risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a study of over 300,000 people published Tuesday, reports The Indian Express.
COPD is a long-term condition linked to reduced lung function that causes inflammation in the lungs and a narrowing of the airways, making breathing difficult.
According to the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) project, COPD is the third leading cause of death worldwide, and the number of global COPD deaths are expected to increase over the next ten years.
Lung function normally declines as we age, but the research published in the European Respiratory Journal suggests that air pollution may contribute to the ageing process and adds to the evidence that breathing in polluted air harms the lungs.
“There are surprisingly few studies that look at how air pollution affects lung health,” said Anna Hansell, a professor at the University of Leicester, UK.
The researchers used a validated air pollution model to estimate the levels of pollution that people were exposed to at their homes when they enrolled in the UK Biobank study.
The types of pollutants the researchers investigated included particulate matter (PM10), fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which are produced by burning fossil fuels from car and other vehicle exhausts, power plants and industrial emissions.
The team then conducted multiple tests to see how long-term exposure to higher levels of the different air pollutants was linked to changes to participants’ lung function.
The participants’ age, sex, body mass index (BMI), household income, education level, smoking status, and exposure to secondhand smoke were accounted for in the analyses.
Further analyses also looked at whether working in occupations that increase the risk of developing COPD impacted disease prevalence.
The data showed that for each annual average increase of five microgrammes per cubic metre of PM2.5 in the air that participants were exposed to at home, the associated reduction in lung function was similar to the effects of two years of ageing.
When the researchers assessed COPD prevalence, they found that among participants living in areas with PM2.5 concentrations above World Health Organization (WHO) annual average guidelines of ten microgrammes per cubic meter, COPD prevalence was four times higher than among people who were exposed to passive smoking at home, and prevalence was half that of people who have ever been a smoker.
The current EU air quality limits for PM2.5 is 25 microgrammes per cubic metre, which is higher than the levels that the researchers noted as being linked to reduced lung function.
“In one of the largest analyses to date, we found that outdoor air pollution exposure is directly linked to lower lung function and increased COPD prevalence.
“We found that people exposed to higher levels of pollutants had lower lung function equivalent to at least a year of ageing,” Hansell said.
“Worryingly, we found that air pollution had much larger effects on people from lower income households. Air pollution had approximately twice the impact on lung function decline and three times the increased COPD risk on lower-income participants compared to higher-income participants who had the same air pollution exposure.
“We accounted for participants’ smoking status and if their occupation might affect lung health, and think this disparity could be related to poorer housing conditions or diet, worse access to healthcare or long-term effects of poverty affecting lung growth in childhood,” Hansell said.