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The New and the Next in Brain Health Biomarkers

By CLN Stat
Posted on 14 Dec 2020
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The Journal of Applied Laboratory Medicine hot topics session spotlights labs’ role in identifying and managing neurodegeneration and brain injury.

Building on the January 2020 special collection issue on brain health biomarkers, this year’s Journal of Applied Laboratory Medicine (JALM) Hot Topics session spotlights new biomarker applications in neurological disease and highlights laboratories’ role in identifying and managing neurodegeneration and brain injury. Knowledge about brain health is growing rapidly, in particular for Alzheimer’s disease and traumatic brain injury (TBI), Robert Christenson, PhD, editor-in-chief of JALM and professor of pathology and professor of medical and research technology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, told CLN Stat.

Clinical laboratorians and other attendees at the 2020 AACC Annual Scientific Meeting should know and understand the current status and future promise of advances in these fields. “We believed that a session highlighting the information in JALM and recent findings on these fields would be of particular interest,” added Christenson.

Attendees will learn about the strengths and weaknesses of current TBI biomarkers for use at the point-of-care and in central laboratories, summarized co-presenter Mari DeMarco, PhD, DABCC, FCACB, a clinical associate professor in the department of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of British Columbia. For Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers, attendees will be able to describe case criteria for appropriate use of testing and learn through a series of case presentations how to interpret core biomarkers for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.

“Moreover, participants will gain an understanding of the current and evolving role of biomarkers in the development of novel therapeutics for neurodegenerative disorders,” added DeMarco.

Biomarker Utilization in Neurological Disease: a JALM Hot Topics Symposium features three presentations.

DeMarco will address cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease. These core biomarkers “are recommended by the international community for diagnostics purposes under select circumstances and used in clinical care around the globe,” said DeMarco. “Beyond the core biomarkers, there are biomarkers in both blood and cerebrospinal fluid under investigation for complementary applications, including facilitating clinical trial enrollment—enriching for populations of interest—and monitoring response to therapy.”

Omar Laterza, PhD, DABCC, executive director for molecular biomarkers and diagnostics at Merck, plans to discuss the role of biomarkers in developing therapeutics that target Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases. Christenson rounds out the session with a talk on the present and future status of TBI biomarkers.

For TBI, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared an assay as an aid in evaluating concussion. “However, the current platform for measurement is not ideal for rapid turnaround of results,” said Christenson. “Other indications for biomarkers in blood and other fluids are being actively developed.” Additional applications should be available in the near future. For Alzheimer’s disease, some clinical practices are measuring beta-amyloid 42 (major component of amyloid plaques), and tau and phosphorylated tau (major components of tau tangles in the brain).

This Hot Topics scientific session at the 2020 AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo takes place on December 16 from 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m. U.S. Central Standard Time and is worth 1.5 ACCENT credit hours.

Related Links:
2020 AACC Annual Scientific Meeting
Biomarker Utilization in Neurological Disease: a JALM Hot Topics Symposium
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