A major challenge for drug development in ALS is the lack of reliable biomarkers for early diagnosis. Due to the long time lapse between first symptoms and diagnosis, clinical interventions are usually only initiated at advanced stages of the disease. A recent study by John Trojanowski and colleagues at University of Pennsylvania, published April 1 in JAMA Neurol., provides initial evidence that levels of Tau protein in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF-Tau) can serve as a diagnostic biomarker and distinguish ALS from other diseases with similar early symptoms. In a study performed on 51 ALS patients and 23 patients with four-repeat tauopathies (4R-tau), a low ratio of phospho-tau/total-tau was able to distinguish ALS patients from supranuclear palsy and 4R-tau patients with greater than 90% sensitivity and specificity. Interestingly, other studies have shown that phospho-tau/total tau ratio may be useful for diagnosing other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and frontotemporal dementia. The next planned steps toward validating the new biomarker are to confirm these results in a larger scale, multi-center study. Click here to read more.
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