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New bio-marker could predict the decline of Alzheimer’s patients

Hands, by Ann Gordon, Flickr

Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, have released he results of a three-year long study that shows a new bio-marker that can quickly predict the rate of mental decline of Alzheimer’s patients.

Released in Neurology, this three-year long study followed 60 patients with mild, early Alzheimer’s disease. The Patients with very mild or mild Alzheimer’s disease participated in the study. Researchers measured VILIP-1 levels in the patient’s spinal fluid.

VILIP-1 levels appear to reflect how much actual brain cell damage has occurred as the result of Alzheimer’s. Memory and other cognitive abilities appeared to diminish faster in patients with the highest VILIP-1 – a neuronal calcium-sensor protein that is a sign of neuronal injury. Cognitive testing was repeated yearly to provide data on rates of cognitive decay.

Given that this was a small study, a much larger one will need to be held to determine and understand how these results stand up. But this is definitely an encouraging step forward.

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