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A blood test for Alzheimer's disease?
Date:1/6/2011

Using a new technology that relies on thousands of synthetic molecules to fish for disease-specific antibodies, researchers have developed a potential method for detecting Alzheimer's disease with a simple blood test. The same methodology might lead to blood tests for many important diseases, according to the report in the January 7th issue of the journal Cell, a Cell Press publication.

"If this works in Alzheimer's disease, it suggests it is a pretty general platform that may work for a lot of different diseases," said Thomas Kodadek of The Scripps Research Institute. "Now we need to put it in the hands of disease experts to tackle diseases where early diagnosis is key."

The new method relies on the notion that many diseases lead to the production of modified proteins. At some point, the adaptive immune system might begin to recognize those proteins as foreign and mount a response. If tests could be developed to recognize those disease-specific proteins or the antibodies that recognize them, it could be the basis for early diagnosis. But in most cases, researchers have had little luck identifying those abnormal proteins.

Kodadek's team decided to take a different tack. They used a large library of randomly selected, unnatural molecules known as "peptoids" to screen for antibodies found in the bloodstream of animals or patients with specific diseases and not in healthy controls.

"The peptoids are really just random shapes," Kodadek explained. The method is really practical, he says, because it allows for the assembly of enormous chemical libraries with little effort. It also offers a way to "step outside of the usual biological or chemical space" in search of molecules that might just fill the pockets of antibodies playing unknown roles in disease.

As a proof of concept, the researchers started with mice with experimental autoimmune encephalitis, a condition that resembles multiple sclerosis in humans. It w
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Contact: Elisabeth Lyons
elyons@cell.com
617-386-2121
Cell Press
Source:Eurekalert

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