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Will biomarker-based diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease maximize scientific progress? Evaluating proposed diagnostic criteria


A recently published framework for the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) in research studies would allow diagnosis on the sole basis of two biomarkers (β-amyloid and pathologic tau), even in people with no objective or subjective memory or cognitive changes. This revision will have substantial implications for future Alzheimer's research, and the changes should be rigorously evaluated before widespread adoption. We propose three principles for evaluating any revision to diagnostic frameworks for AD: (1) does the revision improve the validity of the diagnosis; (2) does the revision improve the reliability or reduce the expense of the diagnosis; and (3) will the revision foster innovative and rigorous research across populations. The new diagnostic framework is unlikely to achieve any of these goals. Instead, it has the potential to handicap future researchers, and slow progress towards identifying effective strategies to prevent or treat AD.

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