Alzheimer's test on the near horizon, researchers say

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A clinical test that would allow physicians to detect Alzheimer's disease in its earliest stages could be ready by the end of 2010, according to recent reports.

Researchers at the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, based at the University of West Virginia, developed the test, the Associated Press reports. According to the research team, skin cells are collected and then combined with a substance that forces the cells to produce the element phosphorous. Based on the level of phosphorous that results from the process, doctors should be able to determine if a patient has Alzheimer's disease. The test has proven 98% accurate in as many as 300 subjects, but researchers say they would like to see the test carried out on thousands more before signing off on its wide-scale production.

To perform the test on a wide scale, the researchers teamed with Inverness Medical Innovations Inc. of Waltham, MA. Assuming further clinical trials produce positive results, the test should be available within 12 to 18 months, the AP reports.