Summary: A recent study questions the accuracy of proposed biomarkers for diagnosing Alzheimer’s.
Doctors currently make a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s based on symptoms and by ruling out other medical causes for those symptoms. Two groups of researchers have proposed new diagnostic criteria that add certain "biomarkers" -- physical or biochemical characteristics that are signs of disease. One set of criteria was developed by panels convened by the Alzheimer’s Association and the U.S. National Institute on Aging. A similar set, the "Dubois Criteria," was developed by the International Working Group for New Research Criteria for the Diagnosis of AD.
The goal of these new criteria is more accurate diagnosis, which hopefully will lead to earlier and better treatment. More accurate diagnosis would have been enormously valuable for my family, eliminating the long diagnostic roller coaster that my father endured.
But at least initially, these new criteria may cause more confusion than clarity. Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm recently compared the diagnoses of memory clinic patients via the current methods with diagnoses of the same patients using the Dubois criteria. Use of the new criteria drastically decreased the number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.