Saturday, August 14, 2010

when you know for sure: definitive alzheimer's test suggests future ethical issues

From the editor of Bioedge

Hi there,

Earlier this week researchers announced in the Archives of Neurology that a spinal fluid test can provide an Alzheimer's prognosis which is 100% accurate. The reputation of spinal taps is only marginally better than appendectomies without anaesthetic, but experts say that they are safe and not especially painful. In fact, when drugs are developed to slow or cure Alzheimer's they foresee that brain scans or spinal taps will be as routine as colonoscopies or mammograms.

I wonder how ageing baby boomers will react to this news when they've had a chance to absorb it? They are certainly interested. I noticed that the New York Times report rocketed to the top of the "most read" articles on its site.

Will people with a positive diagnosis feel pressured to take an early flight into the Great Beyond before they become too burdensome for their families? Fanciful? I don't think so. At the moment, well over 90% of pregnant women who test positive for Down syndrome terminate their child. If they fear that life with a disabled child will be purgatory, what about life with a parent disabled by Alzheimer's?

Is a new era about to begin? Leave your comments.


Michael Cook
Retrieved August 14, 2010 from
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