SOUTH PHILADELPHIA - Thousands took to the streets Sunday as part of Philadelphia's Walk to End Alzheimer's, raising more than $1.1 million in the process.
More than 800 teams comprised of nearly 7,200 participants gathered at Citizens Bank Park for the two-mile journey.
Held annually in more than 600 communities across the United States, the Alzheimer's Association event is the world’s largest aimed at raising awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research.
FOX 29 meteorologist Sue Serio, an honorary chair of the Philadelphia walk for the last 20 years, was among the throng of purple-clad attendees showing support for the cause.
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Scientists are currently closing in a blood test to screen people for possible signs of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.
In July at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference, half a dozen research groups gave new results on various experimental tests, including one that seems 88% accurate at indicating Alzheimer's risk.
Doctors are hoping for something to use during routine exams, where most dementia symptoms are evaluated, to gauge who needs more extensive testing. Current tools such as brain scans and spinal fluid tests are too expensive or impractical for regular check-ups.
"We need something quicker and dirtier. It doesn't have to be perfect" to be useful for screening, said Maria Carrillo, the Alzheimer's Association's chief science officer.
Dr. Richard Hodes, director of the National Institute on Aging, called the new results "very promising" and said blood tests soon will be used to choose and monitor people for federally funded studies, though it will take a little longer to establish their value in routine medical care.
About 50 million people worldwide have dementia, and Alzheimer's is the most common form. There is no cure; current medicines just temporarily ease symptoms. Dozens of hoped-for treatments have failed. Doctors think studies may have enrolled people after too much brain damage had occurred and included too many people with problems other than Alzheimer's.
A blood test - rather than subjective estimates of thinking skills - could get the right people into studies sooner.
Those interested in donating to the Philadelphia Walk to End Alzheimer's can do so here.
Editor's Note: FOX 29 is a proud media sponsor of the Philadelphia Walk to End Alzheimer's.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.