New test might facilitate early diagnosis for Alzheimer`s

Last Updated: Mar 24, 2012, 16:30 PM IST

Washington: Scientists have developed a new method for measurement of aggregated beta-amyloid – a protein complex believed to cause major nerve cell damage and dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease.

The new method might facilitate diagnosis and detection as well as development of drugs directed against aggregated beta-amyloid.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of memory decline and dementia. The disease is characterized by aggregates in the brain, containing a protein called beta-amyloid.

The neuropathology of Alzheimer’s disease has recently been linked to the neurotoxic amyloid-ß (Aß) oligomers. The crucial role of Aß oligomers in the early events of AD is experimentally underlined.

Several recent results suggest that those oligomers may cause the death of neurons and neurological dysfunctions relevant to memory. Furthermore Aß oligomers levels are increased in brain and cerebrospinal fluid samples from people with Alzheimer’s disease. This reflects the potential of Aß oligomers as a marker for the early diagnosis of the disease.

An international team of scientists from Germany, Sweden and the U.S. have used a new method to quantify soluble variants of aggregated beta-amyloid (Aß oligomers) in cerebrospinal fluid by flow cytometry.

“We found that patients with a greater number of Aß oligomers in the cerebrospinal fluid had a more pronounced disease,” said Dr. Alexander Navarrete Santos (the developer of this method and now employee of the Research Laboratory of the University of Halle, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery), and first author of the study.

He analyzed the cerebrospinal fluid of 30 neurological patients, including 14 Alzheimer’s patients.

“These samples provided from leading expert academic memory clinics in Germany and Sweden are of the best quality and are highly characterized in order to provide robust and reliable results on promising novel biomarker candidates”, Professor Harald Hampel of Frankfurt University, a lead investigator comments.

Dr. Oskar Hansson of Lund University added, “Because of the limited number of samples, however, further study is needed to confirm the results”

The study was an international cooperation with the University of California in the U.S., the Goteborg and Malmo Universities from Sweden and the University of Frankfurt in Germany.

The test might not only be used for the early detection of AD but can also be used when developing new and effective therapies for AD. A decline in the number of Aß oligomers in cerebrospinal fluids could be a hint for the effectiveness of new drug therapies.

ANI