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US stock market daily report (July 10, 2014, Thursday)

July 11, 2014, Friday, 05:14 GMT | 00:14 EST | 08:44 IST | 11:14 SGT
Contributed by Millennium Traders

During the past 15 years, over 100 experimental Alzheimer's drugs have failed during trials. Experts believe the reason for so many failures is that the trials are conducted too late, when patients conditions are already too far along. Alzheimer's - a brain-wasting disease - is the most common form of dementia. The disease is so horrific and estimated to cost the world nearly $604 billion a year during 2010. Alzheimer's Disease International says Alzheimer's affects 44 million people worldwide, with the number expected to triple by the year 2050.

The onset of a less severe form of dementia which includes problems with day-to-day memory loss, language changes and loss of attention span - mild cognitive impairment (MCI) - is detectable through brain scans and tests of lumbar fluid. MCI can be early signs of dementia or could be a symptom of stress or anxiety. Nearly 10% of patients diagnosed with MCI develop dementia within a year.

A co-authored study between British scientists from King's College in London and biotech company Proteome Sciences have identified a set of 10 proteins in the blood that can predict the onset of Alzheimer's - before it strikes. The study is an all important step towards developing a test for the horrific and incurable brain-wasting disease.

The predictive test would be used on people before they develop symptoms of Alzheimer's and would assist researchers in selecting the right people for drug trials. By using people who test positive for potentially developing Alzheimer's, researches could be more successful on determining the success of experimental drugs. Early intervention with experimental drugs could halt progression of Alzheimer's, potentially saving lives of individuals previously destined to death.

Simon Lovestone of Oxford University, who led the work from King's College London said, "Alzheimer's begins to affect the brain many years before patients are diagnosed (and) many of our drug trials fail because by the time patients are given the drugs the brain has already been too severely affected."

Lovestone added, "A simple blood test could help us identify patients at a much earlier stage to take part in new trials and hopefully develop treatments."

Lovestone's team used blood samples from 1,148 people consisting of - 476 patients with Alzheimer's, 220 patients with mild cognitive impairment and 452 elderly patients without dementia. The study which was published in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia included analyzing 26 proteins previously found to be linked with Alzheimer's.

Of the 26 proteins, 16 were found to be strongly associated with brain shrinkage in either MCI or Alzheimer's. In a second series of tests, the team was able to see which could predict which patients would progress from MCI to Alzheimer's. Additionally, those tests found a combination of 10 proteins capable of predicting - with 87% accuracy - whether people with MCI would develop Alzheimer's disease within a year.

James Pickett, head of research at the Alzheimer's Society, said the research "does not mean that a blood test for dementia is just around the corner". Pickett said, "These 10 proteins can predict conversion to dementia with less than 90% accuracy, meaning one in 10 people would get an incorrect result. Accuracy would need to be improved before it could be a useful diagnostic test."