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

as an easy first choice because the mice have little variation and the condition has obvious immune system involvement, and it worked. Using a few thousand peptoids, the researchers landed on a handful that could distinguish blood samples taken from healthy versus sick mice.

The next challenge was to see whether the same method would also work in the case of human Alzheimer's disease. Kodadek describes it as a dubious choice, but the risk paid off. Their method uncovered three peptoids that appear to discriminate between healthy and Alzheimer's disease blood samples with high accuracy.

Kodadek says they have since extended the test to more patients and it appears to be holding up well. Nevertheless, development of a clinically useful test will depend on further validation. It's possible that the test might not work as reliably well in a collection of patients representing different ethnic groups or different forms of dementia, he cautions. They'll also need to transition their peptoid technology to a simpler platform better suited for use outside of a research laboratory.

It's not entirely clear whether an early test for Alzheimer's disease would be broadly useful today given that there aren't any real treatment options, he added. Such a test might initially be most useful to pharmaceutical companies, by allowing them to better identify patients with early Alzheimer's for enrollment into clinical trials.

Kodadek says they plan to test their method now in the context of diseases, such as pancreatic cancer, where it is clear that early diagnosis could have significant implications for patient survival. It's possible that antibody-based tests might identify such cancers years before they could be detected otherwise.

If those antibodies and the natural antigens that they recognize could be found using the new technology, it might even aid the development of new and more effective cancer vaccines designed to bolster the body's
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Contact: Elisabeth Lyons
elyons@cell.com
617-386-2121
Cell Press
Source:Eurekalert

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