A new blood test has been shown to identify biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease, providing an early warning of cognitive decline.
Early results from PharmaKure, a pharmaceutical company spun out from The University of Manchester, UK, shows a novel whole blood test (ALZmetrix) developed by the company can quantify Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers.
The test may enable the development of a screening system to catch Alzheimer’s before any major memory problems become apparent, allowing treatments to be offered earlier.
It could also provide a low cost, easily accessible test for identifying and categorising patients for clinical studies, or an alternative to PET brain imaging.
The company says it will undertake a larger study in which an independent laboratory will be used to validate the results before obtaining regulatory clearance for rolling out the test.
“These results represent an important step in developing whole blood tests to address a major unmet need for an alternative to PET and CSF scans”, said Dr Farid Khan, CEO at PharmaKure Limited. “This study has demonstrated how to get early warning signs of cognitive decline using whole blood. We will be using the exciting data to expand our ALZmetrix test to additional patients and new biomarkers.”
Finding those at highest risk
The study investigated whether it is possible to accurately determine whether a patient had amyloid deposits in their brains, as well as predicting how far they had progressed along the path towards full Alzheimer’s disease.
Blood from 54 subjects at the Glasgow Memory Clinic was shipped to PharmaKure for analysis. Key biomarker proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease pathology are amyloid-β (Total, Aβ40 and Aβ42), α-synuclein and Tau (Total, pTAU(181) and pTAU(217)).
The study’s results confirm that using whole blood, rather than just the blood plasma fraction, can identify people who are at high risk of developing full-blown Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, machine learning software showed which biomarkers are most useful for this purpose.
“We are particularly pleased to find that our ALZmetrix blood test can differentiate between patient groups that are amyloid positive or amyloid negative with 97% accuracy to predict those at highest risk of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Professor Andrew Doig, Head of R&D at PharmaKure and researcher at The University of Manchester.