SIMPLE BLOOD TESTS may soon be able to deliver alarming news to Students and Parents about their cognitive health.

Six years ago, at age 49, Julie Gregory paid an online service to sequence her genes, hoping to turn up clues about her poor circulation, blood sugar swings and general ill health.

Instead she learned she had a time bomb  hidden in her DNA : two copies of a gene variant, ApoE4, that is strongly linked to Alzheimer's. Most people with this genotype go on to develop late-onset dementia.

''Alzheimer's was the furthest thing from my mind,'' Ms. Gregory told me. ''I never thought I was at risk. When I saw my results, I was terrified.''

When Ms. Gregory consulted with a neurologist about how to delay the onset of illness, he had just four words for her : ''Good Luck with that.'' After all, no drug had proven effective in reversing Alzheimer's disease. And preventive measures like diet and exercise, the neurologist told her, would just do no good.

Ms. Gregory is not the sort of person who pops into your mind when you think of Alzheimer's -youngish, healthy and sharp-minded. But she represents a type of sufferer we are likely to encounter more and more : those grappling with the looming threat of disease rather than the disease itself.

Scientists say they are on the cusp of developing blood tests that could detect the earliest signs of Alzheimer's damage in people in their 40s and 50s who have no obvious symptoms.

Today, finding out whether  dangerous plaques are building up in your brain requires either a PET scan at a cost of about $4,000 or a spinal tap. And while genetic tests can help predict risk, they don't tell us anything about the current state of your brain.

Effective blood tests could reveal thousands even millions - of people who are now living with a  ''pre-Alzheimer's'' condition.

On Monday, Bill Gates, the billionaire philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft wrote on his blog that ''men in my family have suffered from Alzheimer's,'' which means that he may have high risk of dementia.

He called for new approaches to combating the disease, including developing ''a more reliable, affordable and accessible diagnostic - such as a blood test.''

Mr. Gates also announced that he would be donating $100 million to fight Alzheimer, which will no doubt help to make the blood tests a reality.

The Honor and Serving of the latest Global Operational Research on fatal and terrible diseases continues to Part 2. !WOW! thanks author and researcher Pagan Kennedy.


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