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Protein 'fingerprint' in spinal fluid could spot Alzheimer's disease

t diagnosed until the disease has already caused some amount of dementia," she said. "Having a chemical test available may allow patients to be diagnosed earlier in the course of the disease."

The Cornell study combined cutting edge "proteomics" technology, detailed image analysis, and complex computational and statistical analyses to simultaneously compare 2,000 cerebrospinal fluid proteins from 34 patients with autopsy-proven Alzheimer's disease to those of 34 age-matched controls without the disease.

"Just as the human genome reflects the array of genes a person possesses, the ‘proteome' is the vast collection of proteins expressed by those genes," said Lee. "Essentially we used high-tech methods to contrast the proteomes of Alzheimer's patients against those of a control cohort that included people with other forms of dementia as well as healthy individuals, looking for key differences between the two groups."

This effort yielded intriguing results: 23 proteins that individually might not point to Alzheimer's but together formed an identifying pattern or "fingerprint" specific to the illness.

"Although it need not have turned out that way, several of the 23 markers that emerged from this analysis proved to be proteins with known links to the pathological mechanisms of Alzheimer's disease," said Relkin.

For example, some of the biomarkers are associated with proteins that clog the brains of Alzheimer's patients. Others molecules were linked to inflammation, also a part of Alzheimer's brain pathology. Still other proteins in the panel were linked to synaptic dysfunction ?the breakdown of communication between brain cells that occurs as Alzheimer's disease progresses.

"A subsequent validation group of 10 patients with suspected Alzheimer's and 18 healthy and demented control subjects turned up similar results," said Relkin. "Based on their clinical symptoms, we found the new screen to have 93 percent sensit
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Source:Cornell University News Service


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