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Test Being Developed to Diagnose Mild Cognitive Impairment

By Labmedica International staff writers
Posted on 18 Feb 2013
Autoantibody biomarkers in the blood can potentially be used to diagnose early stages of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

A grant of USD 799,800 from the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-School of Osteopathic Medicine (Stratford, NJ, USA) will help expand earlier research conducted by Robert Nagele, PhD, director of the Biomarker Discovery Center (at the University). Dr. Nagele's published research includes recent findings that identify specific autoantibody biomarkers in the blood for early diagnosis of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

The funded project will pursue three specific goals: to identify a small number of autoantibody biomarkers that can accurately (90% or higher) diagnose MCI cases caused by early stage Alzheimer's disease; to verify the accuracy rate with a larger scale study; and to construct and test a diagnostic kit that is maximally accurate for the broadest possible MCI patient population. If successful, the study will then apply for final US Food and Drug Administration (FDA; Silver Spring, MD, USA) approval of the test.

"Using our novel biomarker discovery strategy, we have shown that it is possible to use a single drop of blood to diagnose Alzheimer's and Parkinson's with greater than 95% accuracy," said Dr Nagele. "This same approach should also allow us to identify a small number of biomarkers that can also accurately diagnose MCI caused by early-stage Alzheimer's disease."

Current approaches to MCI diagnosis rely on physical, neurological, and psychiatric examinations, laboratory tests, and a thorough review of the patient's medications and medical history. Recently, great attention has been given to using neuroimaging technologies to detect structural changes in the brain before symptoms appear. However, these approaches require expensive equipment and technology and can require hospital visits, the injection of radioactive compounds, and the availability of radiologists with advanced training in these techniques.

While current treatments for Alzheimer's cannot stop the progression of the disease, several medications are capable of significantly enhancing brain performance and alleviating symptoms. A number of promising drugs are also currently under development and in clinical trials for the treatment of early Alzheimer's disease. An easy-to-administer blood test for MCI would give pharmaceutical companies a way to identify patients for clinical trials who are at a very early stage of their disease and give researchers a nearly immediate way to monitor the effectiveness of medications under examination.

Related Links:

University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
US Food and Drug Administration



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