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Blood Test for Alzheimer's May Be on the Horizon

By August 17, 2012

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Collaborating scientists from Emory University School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, and Washington University have identified variations in the levels of 4 blood proteins that may enable early diagnosis of Alzheimer's.

In the study just published in Neurology, the researchers looked at variations of 190 proteins in the blood in 600 individuals that were either healthy, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, or showed signs of mild cognitive impairment. In this part of the study, they found 17 proteins that often displayed variant levels between the healthy patients and those diagnosed Alzheimer's or cognitive impairment.

The researchers then followed up by evaluating these 17 proteins in an additional 566 people participating in the multicenter Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative and found that 4 of the blood proteins consistently showed altered levels in these patients. The changes in the levels of these four proteins also correlated with the level of the beta-amyloid peptide in cerebrospinal fluid, which has previously been shown to be an indicator of Alzheimer's. The beta-amyloid peptide is what produces the brain plaques the lead to cognitive deterioration in Alzheimer's patients.

If the findings hold up, it could become the basis for the first blood test for Alzheimer's. At present, the only approved diagnostic test available for this disease is a costly and inconvenient PET brain scan. Also, as mentioned above, an analysis of a spinal fluid retrieved by a somewhat painful spinal tap has been shown to be an early marker of Alzheimer's.

However, a simple blood test that could done during a routine visit to the doctor would be much easier, enabling earlier diagnosis and treatment of more afflicted patients. While there is still no cure, early treatment of Alzheimer's can slow the progression and delay onset of the severe later stages of the disease.

You can read more details about this study from Emory University and at the Alzheimers-Dementia website.


August 18, 2012 at 5:51 pm
(1) Dr. Pam Hiti says:

I have not read this study, but excited about finding your article. The study done in Norway is also very encouraging. As a Physician dedicated to helping families learn to care for a loved one with dementia at home, I am always looking for the latest research and the promise it holds for all of us.
Thank you for the article.

August 19, 2012 at 1:43 pm
(2) Len Hudyma says:

This very recent info may be of interest to readers.

TORONTO, Ontario – August 15, 2012 – Amorfix Life Sciences Ltd today provided details of the results of its recent study presented at the July 2012 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) in Vancouver, which demonstrate that it’s EP-AD test is the most accurate
biochemical diagnostic test today to identify patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) characterizing the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
“There are more than 35 million people worldwide that have AD for which there is currently no effective treatment” said Amorfix President and CEO Dr. Robert Gundel. “A significant stumbling block to the development of new therapeutics is the absence of a robust and accurate diagnostic assay to measure biomarkers for early detection of the disease and for monitoring the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions. We believe that the use of our EP-AD diagnostic
test provides a much needed opportunity for the early detection of the onset of AD. We are now offering it as an important new tool to facilitate clinical development and help bring promising new therapeutics through clinical trials to the patients”.
The Amorfix EP-AD test is an ultra-sensitive assay for the detection of oligomeric Ab (aggregated Ab), a known biomarker for AD, in human cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Oligomers are small aggregates and the building blocks that are toxic to neurons and eventually form plaques in the brains of AD patients. The ability to detect and measure them at the early onset of AD symptoms in the form of Mild Cognitive Impairment would provide a therapeutic window to treat patients before irreversible brain damage occurs.

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