ALS patients commonly receive a physician’s diagnosis only after a long period of inexplicable symptoms. Identification of a biomarker for early diagnosis holds the promise of increasing success of ALS clinical trials by enabling earlier intervention and potentially improving outcomes. A big step in that direction has been made for Alzheimer’s disease patients. The blood-plasma levels of 10 lipid metabolites may prove accurate enough to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease (AD) before the onset of cognitive symptoms, a study published in the March 9 Nature Medicine reports. The 5-year research study, led by Howard Federoff at Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, D.C, and Mark Mapstone at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, New York, involved annual blood draws and cognitive tests on 525 adults of age 70 and older. Approximately 5% of the participants developed mild cognitive impairments or AD over the course of the study, and these same subjects exhibited low baseline levels of 8 phosphatidylcholines and 2 acylcarnitines. Subsequent blinded sample validation was able to predict future onset of cognitive impairment with 90% accuracy. Further research is necessary to elucidate whether this biomarker is specific to AD or is a general marker of neurodegeneration. Click here to read more.
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