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Researchers identify new biomarker for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of mad cow disease
Date:3/9/2011

Neena Singh, MD, PhD and colleagues at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have identified the first disease-specific biomarker for sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD), a universally fatal, degenerative brain disease for which there is no cure. sCJD is one of the causes of dementia and typically leads to death within a year of disease onset.

The finding, published in the March 9th issue of PLoS ONE, a scientific journal produced by the Public Library of Science, provides a basis for developing a test to diagnosis sCJD while patients are still alive. Presently, the only definitive diagnostic test for the disease requires brain tissue be obtained by biopsy or after death.

In their study, Dr. Singh, associate professor of pathology at the School of Medicine, and her team found that levels of the iron-transport protein transferrin (Tf) are significantly decreased in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of patients with sCJD well before the end stage of the disease, potentially allowing for earlier diagnosis.

"The decrease in Tf is significant enough to distinguish sCJD from dementia of non-CJD origin with an accuracy of 80 percent," Dr. Singh says. "When combined with the currently used non-disease-specific biomarker T-tau, the diagnostic accuracy increases to 86 percent. This suggests that the two biomarkers represent separate disease processes, and complement each other as diagnostic biomarkers."

A decrease in the levels of CSF Tf reflects the imbalance of brain's iron metabolism that is associated with sCJD. Being a part of the sCJD disease process, CSF Tf is likely to be a more precise indicator of sCJD than the current tests, Dr. Singh explains.

"CSF Tf is the first biomarker that is related to the underlying pathology in sCJD brains," Dr. Singh explains.

Presently, sCJD is diagnosed by testing for elevated levels of the proteins 14-3-3 and T-tau in the CSF of cases suspected of the disease. Sin
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Contact: Jessica Studeny
jessica.studeny@case.edu
216-368-4692
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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