Scientists from Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB), in Germany have developed a test using two biomarkers that can detect Alzheimer’s (AD) at an early stage. The method was developed from samples banked from 61 disease control patients and 39 AD cases, which were acquired from a prospective study designed and initiated by the gerontopsychiatric unit of the department of psychiatry and psychotherapy at the LVR Clinics, University of Duisburg-Essen, between 2009 and 2013. The researchers from Bochum recently published their open-access report in the journal “Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment and Disease Monitoring”.
The new study headed by Professor Klaus Gerwert made use of a patent pending biosensor that the researchers from the Universitat Duisburg-Essen and RUB had previously developed for unprocessed body fluids, such as blood, that includes immobilized antibodies for protein capture in a manner similar to ELISA, with the addition of secondary structure determination for the protein of interest using infrared spectroscopy. The sensor allows the detection of protein misfolding that occurs in neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.
Alzheimer’s is characterized by misfolding of the amyloid beta protein which occurs before the first symptoms occur. The new diagnostic can detect this misfolding in unprocessed blood which could allow the disease to be detected around eight years before the first clinical symptoms were detected in the patient cohort.
Initially, misfolded amyloid beta in blood predicted 71% of Alzheimer’s cases in symptomless stages, but had a false positive rate of nine per cent of the study participants. The accuracy of the test was improved by adding a second biomarker from cerebrospinal fluid, tau protein, to the detection algorithm.
“Through the combination of both analyses, 87 of 100 Alzheimer’s patients were correctly identified in our study.” … “And we reduced the number of false positive diagnoses in healthy subjects to 3 of 100.”
“Now, new clinical studies with test participants in very early stages of the disease can be launched.”… “Recently, two major promising studies have failed, especially Crenezumab and Aducanumab – not least because it had probably already been too late by the time therapy was taken up. The new test opens up a new therapy window.”
“We are now conducting in-depth research to detect the second biomarker, namely tau protein, in the blood, in order to supply a solely blood-based test in future.” – Professor Klaus Gerwert, Department of Biophysics, RUB
“The sensor is easy to use, robust when it comes to fluctuation in concentration of biomarkers, and standardised.” – Dr. Andreas Nabers, Department of Biophysics, RUB