Study identifies protein set in blood predictive of Alzheimer's disease development

A study published in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia identified a set of 10 biomarker proteins that can predict the onset of Alzheimer's disease, moving the development of a blood test for the illness "considerably closer," Proteome Sciences reported Tuesday. Lead author Abdul Hye said the set of proteins "can predict whether someone with early symptoms of memory loss, or mild cognitive impairment (MCI), will develop Alzheimer's disease within a year, with a high level of accuracy." Proteome's shares gained as much as 12 percent on the news.

Using data from three studies, investigators analysed blood samples from a total of 1148 individuals for 26 proteins previously linked to Alzheimer's disease. The subjects included people with either Alzheimer's disease or MCI, as well as elderly controls. After researchers singled out 16 of the 26 proteins that were "strongly associated with brain shrinkage" in either MCI or Alzheimer's disease, they ran a second series of tests to establish which of the proteins could predict the progression from MCI to Alzheimer's disease. The authors found that a combination of 10 proteins could predict with 87-percent accuracy whether individuals with MCI would develop Alzheimer's disease within a year.

Senior author Simon Lovestone noted that Alzheimer's disease begins affecting the brain many years before diagnosis and that several experimental therapies have failed because "clinical trials were carried out too late in the progression of disease." He suggested that "if we could start treatment earlier in the preclinical phase," with the help of a predictive test, the treatments "might be effective." Lovestone said "the next step will be to validate our findings in further sample sets, to see if we can improve accuracy and reduce the risk of misdiagnosis."

Proteome's chief operating officer Ian Pike, who co-authored the paper, described the study as a "major advance" for the development of a simple blood test to identify the disease before the appearance of clinical symptoms. "Equally important, a blood test will be considerably easier and less expensive than using brain imaging or cerebrospinal spinal fluid," he said. Pike indicated that the company is "in the process of selecting commercial partners to combine the protein biomarkers in a blood test for the global market." Proteome shares patent rights to the test with King's College London, with which it co-authored the study, and will also lead commercialisation efforts.

Meanwhile, James Pickett, head of research at the UK's Alzheimer's Society, suggested the study "does not mean that a blood test for dementia is just around the corner." He pointed out that the set of 10 proteins "can predict conversion to dementia with less than 90 percent accuracy," adding that further testing is required to improve accuracy "before it could be a useful diagnostic test."

Earlier this year, study results suggested that a blood test based on a set of 10 lipid metabolites in blood plasma could identify people who will develop cognitive decline with 90 percent accuracy.

Did you like this article?