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Study Suggests Blood Test for Alzheimer's Possible
Date:3/11/2009

authors include Jennifer S. Wilson, a former undergraduate student in the UGA Honors program who is now pursing graduate studies at Emory University; Shyamala Mruthinti, research pharmacologist at the VA Medical Center and adjunct professor at MCG; and Jerry Buccafusco, director of the MCG Alzheimer's Research Center. The team focused on antibodies that the body creates in response to two proteins that are associated with Alzheimer's disease. One protein, known as amyloid-beta, forms the plaques that are evident in the brains of people with Alzheimer's upon autopsy. The other protein, known as RAGE, is involved in the normal aging process but is expressed at higher levels in the brains of people with Alzheimer's.

In a previous study that compared a group of people with Alzheimer's disease to a healthy control group, Mruthinti and her colleagues found that anti-amyloid beta and anti-RAGE antibodies are significantly higher in the group with Alzheimer's. The team's latest study expands on that finding to reveal a direct relationship between severity of Alzheimer's disease and levels of the two antibodies in the blood.

"Alzheimer's is an inflammatory disease of the brain, and these two antibodies give us a way to measure that inflammation," Mruthinti said. "Using them as an early diagnostic marker may allow us to start drug treatment early, when it's most effective, to increase the patient's quality of life."

While optimistic about their findings, the researchers caution that it could still be years before a diagnostic test based on their work is clinically available. The study found that the relationship between the two antibodies and Alzheimer's severity persists even after controlling for patient age and total antibody levels. To further test the strength of the relationship, the rese
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