Proteome Sciences (LON:PRM) has developed a blood test that it believes could detect the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Results of a study, conducted in partnership with King’s College London, have been published in ‘Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association’.
In the study, blood samples from a total of 1,148 individuals (476 with Alzheimer's disease; 220 with 'mild cognitive impairment' (MCI) and 452 elderly controls without dementia) were analysed for 26 proteins previously shown to be associated with Alzheimer's disease. A sub-group of 476 individuals across all three groups also had a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scan.
Researchers identified 16 of the 26 proteins as being strongly associated with brain shrinkage in either MCI or Alzheimer's and then ran another set of tests to see which of these proteins could predict the progression from MCI to Alzheimer's.
The second set of tests enabled researchers to identify a combination of 10 proteins capable of predicting whether individuals with MCI would develop Alzheimer's disease within a year, with an accuracy of 87%.
Currently there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but these tests could be instrumental in ensuring people who are likely to succumb to the disease will get treatment earlier, where it is hoped treatments that stave off the onset of the disease will be more effective.
“Many of our drug trials fail because by the time patients are given the drugs, the brain has already been too severely affected. A simple blood test could help us identify patients at a much earlier stage to take part in new trials and hopefully develop treatments which could prevent the progression of the disease,” said Professor Simon Lovestone, senior author of the study.
“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, and to develop a reliable test suitable to be used by doctors," added Professor Lovestone, who led the study at King’s College while on secondment from Oxford University.
Dr Abdul Hye, lead author of the study from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London, said: “We now have a set of 10 proteins that can predict whether someone with early symptoms of memory loss, or mild cognitive impairment, will develop Alzheimer's disease within a year, with a high level of accuracy.
As was noted by Dr Ian Pike, co-author of the paper from Proteome Sciences, a blood test is also a lot cheaper and easier than using brain imaging or cerebrospinal spinal fluid.
"We are in the process of selecting commercial partners to combine the protein biomarkers in a blood test for the global market, a key step forward to deliver effective and early treatment for this crippling disease," Dr Pike added.
Although Alzheimer’s Disease is often regarded as being synonymous with dementia, it is, in fact, just one form of it, albeit the most common. Estimates have suggested that 135mln people worldwide, which is almost equivalent to the population of Russia, will have dementia by the year 2050.
In 2010, the annual global cost of dementia was estimated at US$604 billion.
Shares in Proteome were up 14.4% at 37.75p in late morning trading.