First Blood Test to Help Diagnose Alzheimer’s Goes on Sale
ST. LOUIS, Mis. (AP) — A company has started selling the first blood test to help diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, a leap for the field that could make it much easier for people to learn whether they have dementia. It also raises concern about the accuracy and impact of such life-altering news.
Independent experts are leery because key test results have not been published and the test has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — it’s being sold under more general rules for commercial labs. But they agree that a simple test that can be done in a doctor’s office has long been needed.
It might have spared Tammy Maida a decade of futile trips to doctors who chalked up her symptoms to depression, anxiety or menopause before a $5,000 brain scan last year finally showed she had Alzheimer’s.
“I now have an answer,” said the 63-year-old former nurse from San Jose, California.
If a blood test had been available, “I might have been afraid of the results” but would have “jumped on that” to find out, she said.
More than 5 million people in the United States and millions more around the world have Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia. To be diagnosed with it, people must have symptoms such as memory loss plus evidence of a buildup of a protein called beta-amyloid in the brain.
The best way now to measure the protein is a costly PET brain scan that usually is not covered by insurance. That means most people don’t get one and are left wondering if their problems are due to normal aging, Alzheimer’s or something else.
The blood test from C2N Diagnostics of St. Louis aims to fill that gap. The company’s founders include Drs. David Holtzman and Randall Bateman of Washington University School of Medicine, who headed research that led to the test and are included on a patent that the St. Louis university licensed to C2N.
ABOUT THE TEST
The test is not intended for general screening or for people without symptoms — it’s aimed at people 60 and older who are having thinking problems and are being evaluated for Alzheimer’s. It’s not covered by insurance or Medicare; the company charges $1,250 and offers discounts based on income. Only doctors can order the test and results come within 10 days. It’s sold in all but a few states in the U.S. and just was cleared for sale in Europe.
It measures two types of amyloid particles plus various forms of a protein that reveal whether someone has a gene that raises risk for the disease. These factors are combined in a formula that includes age, and patients are given a score suggesting low, medium or high likelihood of having amyloid buildup in the brain.
If the test puts them in the low category, “it’s a strong reason to look for other things” besides Alzheimer’s, Bateman said.
“There are a thousand things that can cause someone to be cognitively impaired,” from vitamin deficiencies to medications, Holtzman said.
“I don’t think this is any different than the testing we do now” except it’s from a blood test rather than a brain scan, he said. “And those are not 100% accurate either.”
The company has not published any data on the test’s accuracy, although the doctors have published on the amyloid research leading to the test. Company promotional materials cite results comparing the test to PET brain scans — the current gold standard — in 686 people, ages 60-91, with cognitive impairment or dementia.
If a PET scan showed amyloid buildup, the blood test also gave a high probability of that in 92% of cases and missed 8% of them, said the company’s chief executive, Dr. Joel Braunstein.
If the PET scan was negative, the blood test ruled out amyloid buildup 77% of the time. The other 23% got a positive result, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the blood test was incorrect, Braunstein said. The published research suggests it may detect amyloid buildup before it’s evident on scans.
Braunstein said the company will seek FDA approval and the agency has given it a designation that can speed review. He said study results would be published, and he defended the decision to start selling the test now.
“Should we be holding that technology back when it could have a big impact on patient care?” he asked.
WHAT OTHERS SAY
Dr. Eliezer Masliah, neuroscience chief at the U.S. National Institute on Aging, said the government funded some of the work leading to the test as well as other kinds of blood tests.
“I would be cautious about interpreting any of these things,” he said of the company’s claims. “We’re encouraged, we’re interested, we’re funding this work but we want to see results.”
Heather Snyder of the Alzheimer’s Association said it won’t endorse a test without FDA approval. The test also needs to be studied in larger and diverse populations.
“It’s not quite clear how accurate or generalizable the results are,” she said.
Netflix to charge an additional $8 month for viewers living outside US subscribers’ households
Netflix on Tuesday outlined how it intends to crack down on the rampant sharing of account passwords in the U.S., its latest bid to reel in more subscribers to its video streaming service as its growth slows.
To combat password sharing, Netflix said it will limit U.S. viewership of its programming to people living in the same household. Those who subscribe to Netflix’s standard or premium plans — which cost $15.50 to $20 per month — will be able to allow another person living outside their household to use their password for an additional $8 per month, a $2 discount from the company’s basic plan.
Without providing details how it authenticates subscriber identities or accounts, Netflix assured that everyone living in the same household of a U.S. customer will still be able to stream TV series and movies “wherever they are — at home, on the go, on holiday.” The company based in Los Gatos, California has roughly 70 million U.S. accountholders.
The long-anticipated move, telegraphed by Netflix a year ago, seeks to end a practice that the company allowed to go unchecked for years while its streaming service was attracting subscribers in droves. At that time, management had little incentive to risk riling customers by reining in password sharing.
While Netflix looked the other away, an estimated 100 million people worldwide were getting passwords from family and friends to freeload on Netflix TV series such as “The Crown” and films such as “All Quiet On The Western Front.” Those passwords were funneled through Netflix’s 232.5 million worldwide paying subscribers, who generated the bulk of the company’s $32 billion in revenue last year.
But after a year of lackluster subscriber growth that included its largest customer losses in more than a decade, Netflix is putting its foot down.
Before the crackdown on password sharing, Netflix began introducing features, such as the ability to transfer the profiles set up on subscriber accounts to make it easier for people to retain their viewing histories after they are no longer able to watch shows for free.
Netflix’s effort to force more of its viewers to pay for access to its programming follows the launch of a $7 monthly plan that inserted commercials into its service for the first time. Netflix has picked up an additional 9 million worldwide subscribers since the ad-supported option debuted, although not all of those signed up for the low-priced plan.
Although the new U.S. surcharge for viewers living outside subscribers’ households is less than Netflix’s basic streaming plan, it comes at a time that Americans have been paring their discretionary spending because of high inflation. That inflationary squeeze, combined with more competition from other streaming services, is one of the main reasons Netflix has suffered a slowdown in growth.
Netflix co-CEO Greg Peters acknowledged last month that the crackdown on password sharing is likely to trigger an uptick subscriber cancellations, but expressed confidence the company will be better off in the long run after people adjust to the clampdown.
“We see an initial cancel reaction, and then we build out of that both in terms of membership and revenue as borrowers sign-up for their own Netflix accounts,” Peters assured analysts, citing how the crackdown has unfolded in Canada since February.
Netflix’s shares fell 2% Tuesday to close at $355.99. The stock remain up by about 20% so far this year.
Target removes some LGBTQ merchandise from stores ahead of June Pride month after threats to workers
NEW YORK (AP) — Target is removing certain items from its stores and making other changes to its LGBTQ merchandise nationwide ahead of Pride month, after an intense backlash from some customers including violent confrontations with its workers.
“Since introducing this year’s collection, we’ve experienced threats impacting our team members’ sense of safety and well-being while at work,” Target said in a statement Tuesday. ”Given these volatile circumstances, we are making adjustments to our plans, including removing items that have been at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior.”
Target declined to say which items it was removing but among the ones that garnered the most attention were “tuck friendly” women’s swimsuits that allow trans women who have not had gender-affirming operations to conceal their private parts. Designs by Abprallen, a London-based company that designs and sells occult- and satanic-themed LGBTQ clothing and accessories, have also created backlash.
The Pride merchandise has been on sale since early May. Pride month is held in June.
Target confirmed that it has moved its Pride merchandise from the front of the stores to the back in some Southern stores after confrontations and backlash from shoppers in those areas.
Target’s Pride month collection has also been the subject of several misleading videos in recent weeks, with social media users falsely claiming the retailer is selling “tuck-friendly” bathing suits designed for kids or in kids’ sizes.
The moves come as beer brand Bud Light is still grappling with a backlash from customers angered by its attempt to broaden its customer base by partnering with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. Bud Light’s parent company said it will triple its marketing spending in the U.S. this summer as it tries to restore sales it lost after the brand partnered with the transgender influencer.
Target and other retailers including Walmart and H&M have been expanding their LGBTQ displays to celebrate Pride month for roughly a decade. This year transgender issues — including gender-affirming health care and participation in sports — have been a divisive topic in state legislatures and the backlash has turned hostile.
Aiyana Mathews’ Success Story Ignites Global Business Pros at GSU’s 8th Global Languages Leadership Meeting
ATLANTA, Ga. (FNN) – Gardner-Mathews Global Management founder and CEO Aiyana Mathews provoked tears of inspiration during her keynote speech at the 8th Annual Global Languages Leadership Meeting (GLLM), hosted by Georgia State University’s Center for Urban Language Teaching and Research (CULTR) last Friday.
CULTR Director Dr. Hakyoon Lee greeted guests and provided an overview about CULTR’s work and priorities. This year’s GLLM was the first in-person event after two consecutive virtual events. FNN News asked her how it felt to finally be in-person again. “I think it’s great,” she said post-event. “It was great to see people I had previously met online during our Zoom meetings. It was great to see our supporters [and] community partners.”
Georgia State University Provost Dr. Nicolle Parsons-Pollard followed Dr. Lee, sharing brief remarks on GSU’s vision going forward and the institution’s excitement to welcome Mathews back as this year’s keynote speaker.
Mathews, who was invited to be this year’s keynote speaker after wowing the CULTR team with her panel discussion appearance the year before, shared her immersive experience in Japan and with Japanese culture Friday, impressing upon the audience the immeasurable value of learning multiple languages, embracing new cultures, and the powerful relationships and opportunities those efforts can create.
Mathews’ presentation spanned her compelling 24-year relationship with Japan, which began with her first landing there as part of an exchange program during her printing technology studies at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Her experience was actually a first for the institution–no other student had done that specific exchange program before. She also chronicled her experience of connecting with Japanese host Fumiko Takahashi and her family. Fumiko, who was present for Mathews’ presentation Friday, received a standing ovation.
During her 44-slide keynote, Mathews laid out the proof of her passion to connect with people wherever she’s planted. She loved her first experience in Japan so much that she ended up moving back there a second time, working as an assistant language teacher. She worked together with local community partners to create festivals that not only celebrated different cultures, but deepened her relationship with the Japanese people by helping natives expand their global awareness as well. Even upon her return to the U.S., she began fostering relationships within the Japanese community in Atlanta by developing a close bond with former Japanese Consul General George Hisaeda and his wife Midori, as well as connecting with relevant Atlanta-based Japanese organizations.
Mathews did the same in Orlando, Florida, fostering relations with Japanese organizations there and organizing a business matchmaking event at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for Japanese companies in the aviation and aerospace industry that wanted to get into Florida’s air and space industry. Her journey involved much more, and she clearly laid out the skills she developed along the way, but a core point resounded over and over again with each project and encounter: mastering other languages is paramount in fostering deep, meaningful connections with other cultures. Mathews wanted the audience to understand that being multilingual goes beyond just getting translator or interpreter jobs. The opportunities are boundless when one chooses to master other languages while coupling relentless diligence with a genuine heart for people, as she has done.
Mathews’ presentation blew the 100 attendees–including CULTR’s leadership–away. “I think it was a very inspiring presentation,” said Dr. Lee of the keynote. “It was very successful, I enjoyed it very much.” Mio Maeda, the current Consul General of Japan, was also present. “I was very impressed,” Consul General Maeda said of Mathews’ presentation. “We are very lucky to have her as the bridge between Japan and the States. She’s so devoted to the relations between Japan and Georgia, so I thank her.”
During the Q&A portion, Nita Penn, a young African American mom of twins who teaches ESL in South Korea, stood and shared her deep gratitude to Mathews. “As someone who did the same thing as you in South Korea, I feel seen,” she said, fighting tears. “I just want to thank you for sharing your story and showing people this is possible and that there are more of us out there doing the same thing.” Mathews left the podium to hug her.
“This is actually the first time I’ve ever shared my [full] 24-year experience with Japan and I’ve been wanting to do that for a long time, so I feel very fulfilled,” Mathews shared with FNN News after the event. “I’m grateful that CULTR has given me this platform to showcase to the 100 participants that were here today something that I know so well.”
Mathews’ company, Gardner-Mathews Global Management, offers project management and other key services to businesses operating internationally or wish to expand into international markets.
Mellissa Thomas reports for FNN News Atlanta. | email@example.com
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