Jan 252011

Using a new technology that relies on thousands of synthetic molecules to fish for disease-specific antibodies, researchers have developed a potential method for detecting Alzheimer’s disease with a simple blood test. The same methodology might lead to blood tests for many important diseases, according to the report published by Thomas Kodadek’s group at the Scripps Research Institute in the January 7th issue of the journal Cell.

The new method relies on the notion that many diseases lead to the production of modified proteins. At some point, the adaptive immune system might begin to recognize those proteins as foreign and mount a response. If tests could be developed to recognize those disease-specific proteins or the antibodies that recognize them, it could be the basis for early diagnosis. But in most cases, researchers have had little luck identifying those abnormal proteins.

Kodadek’s team decided to take a different tack. They used a large library of randomly selected, unnatural molecules known as “peptoids” to screen for antibodies found in the bloodstream of animals or patients with specific diseases and not in healthy controls.

Their method uncovered three peptoids that appear to discriminate between healthy and Alzheimer’s disease blood samples with high accuracy. Three of them reacted strongly to the blood of six patients with the condition, but not that of 16 healthy individuals used as controls. Although this is encouraging the findings must be corroborated by further studies to demonstrate that antibodies can indicate whether the attack opens a picture for diagnosing the disease.

* Reddy MM, Wilson R, Wilson J, Connell S, Gocke A, Hynan L, German D, Kodadek T. Identification of candidate IgG biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease via combinatorial library screening. Cell 2011 January 7;144:132-142.

Michael S. Rafii, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Medical Core Director, Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study
This post originally appeared in Alzheimer’s Insights, an ADCS Blog.

  7 Responses to “A New Method to Test for Alzheimer’s Disease?”

  1. Is there a way to sign up for a waiting list to be tested? Both my parents have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.
    I would like to know if I carry the antibodies. This information, if disclosed to me, would be invaluable in seeking early diagnosis and treatment, as I am aging.

    • You should speak to your primary care physician. Medicare now covers genetic testing for the ApoE gene, which affects one's chances of developing AD.

  2. Blood tests available for patient who need financial help. http://www.gotogodo.com/index.php?p=187310

  3. My father died at 67 had early onset Alzheimer's 3 of his siblings also had Alzheimer's My oldest sister is having major memory problems and she is having problems with complex tasks. Is there a waiting list to be tested? I live in the San Francisco bay area

  4. I think that many people would like to know if they have early risk factors for developing Alzheimer's disease. However this poses an entire new problem. At the age of 42 and in good health, i was denied long term health care insurance. The reason cited by the insurance company was that i'd had a diagnosis of "back pain". I had, however, stated on the application that my father suffered from Alzheimer's disease.
    Since 2007 when my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, we have spent (or rather i should say he has spent) one half million dollars on care for him. How can insurance companies who offer this type of insurance be kept from denying it to people if they receive an early diagnosis?

  5. Thank you for this wonderful piece of news!
    I feel sorry for those who are to suffer from this horrible disease, and for close people of such people. I know it for sure as far as my friend's dad suffers from that. I hope the scientists will improve the ways of its curing.
    Take care,

    • Wow.As usual, your writing is mnovig. I am so proud of her for announcing it earlier than she had to it’s like a punch back at the disease that will pummel her later on. My hope is that by people like Summitt speaking up about the disease, the stigma will disappear and stem cell research will finally progress. Too many people (I’m looking at you, Laura Bush) are hesitant to share their family’s story to help fight Alzheimers and its evil family of similar diseases.Who knows, it could also push a Univ. of Tennessee researcher to find a cure.

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