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Biomarker predicts preclincal Alzheimer’s disease


A multi-center collaboration has identified a new biomarker of Alzheimer’s disease risk.


A group of scientists from the USA has described a lipodomic approach to identify individuals at risk of developing preclinical Alzheimer’s disease, in cognitively normal older adults. Detection of the novel biomarker, unlike previous techniques, is the first test that identifies the risk of Alzheimer’s disease before cognitive symptoms manifest.

Alzheimer’s disease is projected to affect 115 million individuals worldwide by 2015. Currently, there are no blood-based biomarkers that have the required specificity and sensitivity to detect the disease. In addition, current screening methods are invasive, expensive and time-consuming.

Lead author on the study, Mark Mapstone, from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry (NY, USA), commented, “The ability to identify individuals who are at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease before the clinical manifestation of cognitive impairment has long been a Holy Grail of the neuromedicine community.” Mapstone continued, “Current efforts to develop a treatment for this disease are coming up short because they are probably being used too late. Biomarkers that can allow us to intervene early in the course of the disease could be a game-changer.”

The study, which is part of the Rochester Aging Study that was launched in 2007, monitored 425 seniors from the Rochester (NY, USA) area and 100 seniors from Irvine (CA, USA), over a 5-year period. Once a year, a participant’s cognitive abilities were assessed and blood samples were taken to monitor lipid levels using MS. The team identified 10 specific phospholipids that when present at below normal levels indicated whether individuals would develop Alzheimer’s disease or a preclinical form of the disease, termed amnestic mild cognitive impairment, with 90% accuracy.

Mapstone concluded, “Having a tool that is able to identify, with a high degree of accuracy and at a low cost, which individuals will convert to Alzheimer’s could transform how we care for this devastating disease.”

Sources: Mapstone M, Cheema AK, Fiandaca MS et al. Plasma phospholipids identify antecedent memory impairment in older adults. Nature Medicine DOI:10.1038/nm.3466 (2014) (Epub ahead of print); Biomarker points to Alzheimer’s risk.



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