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For decades, Alzheimer's disease researchers have been looking for a way to predict the disease in advance that isn't incredibly invasive or expensive. Now a group of scientists at Georgetown University say they might have found it.
The study, published in Nature Medicine, looked at hundreds of elderly adults who were cognitively normal, trying to find a difference between those who went on to develop Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive impairment and those who didn't.
What they came up with was a blood test looking at 10 lipids, or fat molecules, that was able to predict who would develop the disease within two to three years with 90 percent accuracy.
Currently, the only tests available to predict Alzheimer's disease are either expensive, like brain scans in an MRI, or painful, like spinal taps, so few people get tested before symptoms appear. (Via Wikimedia Commons / Liz West, DocP)
Alzheimer’s disease is a growing problem in the U.S. More than 5 million people have the disease, and that number's expected to grow to more than 7 million by 2025.
And while the CDC currently lists Alzheimer’s disease as the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. with 83,000 deaths per year, a study from Rush University released last week show that number may be much higher, rivaling the half million deaths per year of cancer and heart disease.
And there's no cure. What's worse, the new study's lead author, Dr. Howard Federoff, says even the treatments we do have just aren't very effective.
"One of the reasons for this may be that the stage in which they were evaluated, which is in patients who already have the disease, may be the wrong stage." (Via Georgetown University)
The hope is that a simple blood test to diagnose Alzheimer's disease patients years before symptoms emerge could open the flood gates of research into new, early treatments. For that, Federoff tells CNN he considers this study the single most important finding he's ever made.
The new blood test still needs to be evaluated by the scientific and medical communities before it becomes widespread, which would likely take a minimum of two years.
While Union County Public Schools is in the middle of a heated battle over where students go to school, many members of the community are mourning the loss of one of its leaders.
Longtime school board member John Crowder passed away around 1:30 Sunday afternoon, just five days after a controversial vote to shuffle thousands of Union County students to different schools.
Crowder spent 31 years in school board leadership. The 77-year-old had been a member of the Union County board of education since it began in 1993 and served 10 years before that on the board for Monroe City Schools.
UCPS Communications Director Rob Jackson said, "He was an incredible leader and his leadership will be missed."
Crowder's wife, Minnie, told Channel 9 he was in good health and only took medication for arthritis pain. Sunday marked 52 years of marriage for the couple. She believes Crowder's death was brought on by the stress of Tuesday night's vote to change where many students go to school. Crowder made the surprise motion for the vote a month ahead of when it was supposed to happen.
On Sunday, families rallied again with speakers energizing the crowd. Parents held signs with their children, hoping school leaders know they are still not pleased with the decision.
"This is not a crisis and my children are basically the pawns of this game that they are playing," said mother of three, Christine Carroll.
At the rally, event organizers had parents fill out transfer applications. They said they plan to flood the UCPS central office with about 3,000 applications. Officials have to respond to each one.
They also asked for donations for an impending legal battle with the board.
"It can be overturned. They have the right to overturn and we have enough evidence to support it," said event organizer, Maura MacKinnon.
This battle has been a personal one for many people involved, including Crowder. According to his board bio, his reason for serving was to make sure each child received a good education.
The North Carolina Democratic Party has chosen a new leader.
The party appointed Casey Mann as the permanent executive director. She was previously the party’s state director.
Mann has been working as the interim executive director since Chairman Randy Voller dismissed Robert Dempsey last month. Voller has not given an explanation for that decision.