New Alzheimer's test is scary tech

New Alzheimer's test is scary tech

Summary: A company called Satoris has announced a blood test that can detect Alzheimer's 2-6 years away from any symptoms. But do you want to know?

TOPICS: Health

Fred and Mamie Blankenhorn in 1980I have a secret for you.

My grandfather (right) died of Alzheimer's Disease. He was 86 when he passed away.

My own dad came through town, after seeing his father for the last time. Looked like he'd seen a ghost. Needed several stiff drinks to get back together. I'm just glad my best friend at the time was trying to clear out his cordials cabinet.

Had I told my dad he would die the same way, I'm sure he would have eaten a gun, right there. Alzheimer's is a terrible way to go, for everyone involved. It's like you just, disappear, before your own eyes, and then your eyes have to stare out at the world for months or years before your body gets the message.

My dad finally did pass away, in 1999, of heart disease, and the point of this tale is that a company called Satoris has announced a blood test that can detect Alzheimer's 2-6 years away from any symptoms.

Tony Wyss-Coray says the test works by screening for 18 specific proteins commonly found in the blood of Alzheimer's patients. Early tests show it's 90% accurate. Wyss-Coray's paper will be in Nature Medicine.

"I'm personally a proponent of knowing what is ahead" Dr. Leonard Mucke, who runs the San Francisco lab where Wyss-Coray trained, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

The point of that personal story at the top is not everyone agrees. Even if they say, at first, they want to know, some really don't. Given that Alzheimer's is still incurable, I'm pretty certain I don't want to know. Not before I see symptoms.

If we do find a cure, especially if it works best in the earliest stages, then by all means. But to know I'm about to die a truly horrible death? No thanks.

Agree or disagree?[poll id=7]

Topic: Health

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  • I'm with you...

    I have found from sad experience that being informed of an incurable disease usually programs most people to degenerate much faster than they would otherwise have done. Same for low percentage chance curable diseases.

    I'm familiar with the thought processes and the way the body responds to such. I've been given three fatal diagnoses over the last 30 years, two were false diagnoses. The one that was not, well I was given 6 years and that was 20 years ago. I attribute this to the first two false ones through which I learned that you can't allow some 'fatal' diagnosis hold your mind or you will start to shut down your own self-recovery systems.

    We only have what time we have and use it the best you can.
    • Good on you

      I have a close friend, just got off the phone with him, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1995 and is still not only with us, but vital.

      Stay well, friend.
    • Good point, Tecno

      The self-fulfilling prophecy syndrome. On the other hand if I was going to die I would like to know in advance so I could spend my remaining time doing the things I want to do and not what I think I have to do. philosophy there?
  • RE: New Alzheimer's test is scary tech

    If I know I'm going to get it in 2-6 years, with certainty, it sure would affect how and where I vacation, how much money I'm saving for a "rainy day", how I interact with friends and family, etc. I'd much rather know with time to prepare than only find out once the symptoms began. But maybe I just THINK I'd want to know.
    • You're braver than I am

      I know, live each day like it's your last. I just don't want that sword hanging over me.
  • RE: New Alzheimer's test is scary tech

    I'm surprised that no 'journalists' have done any searches to see what else is going on in the area of blood tests. There is another firm doing orderly evaluations in Stage II clinical evaluation. I found them in a simple search over 2 years ago.


    I am not an investor. I'm a family member interested in a more quantitative diagnosis for Alzheimer's.

  • Scary Tech

    I would not like to know. Once identified, and assuming your insurance company helped pay for the test, wouldn?t you be subject to being considered a ?pre-existing condition? category patient. This could make changing health insurers impossible when you haven?t even shown signs of the disease. Another possibility could also affect future employment and promotions because a company wouldn?t want to invest in this type of employee. To me it would be like the ?walking dead?. By the way my Grandfather died of Alzheimer?s and I?ve lived with this fear all my life.
    • Insurance issues

      Good points, e55! Not only might the test results have an adverse effect on health insurance coverage as a preexisting condition, but the test results idicating the probability of evidencing symptoms of Alzheimer's or a similar Alzheimer's-like dementia (which is very common, but not much discussed in popular media) would certainly disqualify one from Long-term Care insurance coverage. Incidently, the test results, whether paid for by your insurance company or not, would likely be available to a prospective insurance company through health information clearinghouses to which all insurors subscribe and which are a repository of nearly all of our health status information. Good luck with our Big Brothers in Futureworld!
      • Test Results WILL Harm You.

        I know this from first hand experience. I am genetically at risk (50-50 chance) for a form of dementia similar to Alzheimer's. There is no cure for the disease but there is a blood test for it. I once applied for life insurance and was TURNED DOWN for the policy because I refused to take the blood test. You know what they would have done if the test was positive. If you have the test done and it is positive, you will be discriminated against and denied health, life, long-term care insurance as well as possibly home loans and employment. We currently have no laws protecting a patient who wants to know their genetic future. If you really want to know, you can try making up a fake name, using a fake SS# and pay for the test in cash. However, if the insurance companies ever catch wind of it, you can be sued for insurance fraud. So WARNING! Until a cure is found, stay away from the test and refuse to take it if an insurance company demands it. And lobby for genetic anti-discrimination laws if you are asymptomatic.
  • RE: New Alzheimer's test is scary tech

    I'd want to know. My father had Pick's Disease, which exhibits similar symptoms of Alzheimer's. Having helped my mom care for him at home, I'd want to make sure that I had the opportunity to set up my estate so that my family would be secure in knowing that all the details were taken care and that they didn't have to figure it out alone.
  • Everyone should know

    Certain death is an excellent way to focus one's mind.

    Knowing when you are probably going to die makes it infinitely easier to plan what you need to do for your family, as well as what you really want to do with yourself between now and then.

    Of course I have an Uncle on my mother's side that died of Alzheimer's; and my wife's grandfather died of it also. Both of us would like to know - but would prefer others didn't - like our insurance companies.
  • Sur research funding

    Victims and their families would be strongly motivated to fund research.
  • RE: New Alzheimer's test is scary tech

    I'd want to know. Then, when if I start to show the early symtoms, my family would understand what was happening and we could start making arrangements for a suitable home for me.
  • RE: New Alzheimer's test is scary tech

    I want to pick who is going to make my medical and financial decisions through court appointed guardianship; power of attorney will not cut it. I want to be able to let that person know my wishes, and it will also give me a chance to make sure that I believe they will carry through with my wishes. If you wait, the courts get involved, the attorneys get the money, and you and your family gets no say without your attorneys getting more money as well. My experience with Mom; she responded to they symptoms early on and things went very smooth.
  • RE: New Alzheimer's test is scary tech

    I wouldn't want to know. But I'm a poor person without assets. I wouldn't have any business to conclude except for spiritual and relationship ones. And aren't those the ones that really matter in the end? Finding out early in the stages would be enough for me.
  • RE: New Alzheimer's test is scary tech

    This and other long-term medical predictive tests can be used by
    1. individuals to destroy the actuarial underpinnings of long-term care and medical insurance (I'm positive, buy insurance;I'm not, don't buy it).
    2. insurance companies to deny coverage (some newer laws deal with this)
  • RE: New Alzheimer's test is scary tech

    AD is a degenerativ disease that can leave you cognitively impaired but otherwise fine physically. The individual and those around them do best when they have time to learn about the disease, it's treatment and prognosis. There are a number of non-medical issues that need to be planned for. A good example is the elderly couple that knows one person is going to end up in a nursing home needs financial preplanning so that all assets are not spent on the spouse in the NH and there are resources left for the spouse still living in the community. If you don't see it coming you can't plan for it and then the burden of the disease is magnified.
    Kevin Farrell D.O.
  • RE: New Alzheimer's test is scary tech

    Yep, I would like to know. I work with the elderly now at age 61 and I can tell you getting old is not for Sissys!! Even Dementia is frustrating for those that are aware of losing their minds. Alzheimers is terrible but a good facilitie is a must so prior knowledge is a good thing.
  • RE: New Alzheimer's test is scary tech

    I do not have a problem knowing IF insurance companies could not deny you services because of the testing as a way of exploiting a pre-existing disease so they could deny or restrict treatment. Preventative and pro-active treatments due to early detection is always the best way to go, if you want to live an informed and healthy life.
  • RE: New Alzheimer's test is scary tech

    As there is no certainty it will happen, why would anyone want to plan for an uncertain death. Death is uncertain anyway. And remember those nuns who had all the brain patterns of Alzheimer's but didn't have the symptoms? "Do not go gently into that good night/Rage, rage, against the dying of the light" (Dylan Thomas)