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Markers in Blood and Spinal Fluid, and a New Imaging Agent, Show Promise for Early Detection of Alzheimer's
Date:7/29/2008

ation (known as the "cell cycle") that is common in other cells in the body. However, in Alzheimer's disease, brain cells have demonstrated an abnormal tendency to prepare to re-enter this cell cycle, which may increase their likelihood of dying or directly cause their death.

The equivalent cell cycle defect is found in lymphocytes of people with Alzheimer's. Lymphocytes are white blood cells in the immune system that can easily be collected for testing by a simple blood draw. Professor Thomas Arendt, Director of the Paul Flechsig Institute, University of Leipzig, Germany, thought that this suggested a vehicle for detecting Alzheimer's.

In a study performed in the U.S. by GW Medical, the licensor of Arendt's technology, Arendt and colleagues measured the expression of CD-69 (a protein involved in white blood cell growth and production) on multiple cell lines in people with probable Alzheimer's (n=32), healthy controls (n=30) and other dementias, chiefly Parkinson's disease dementia, (n=26).

Variations in levels of CD-69 enabled the researcher to clearly differentiate between Alzheimer's subjects and demented Parkinson's subjects. It was accurate 91 percent of the time when the diagnosis was Alzheimer's and 92 percent of the time when it was Parkinson's dementia. The assay correctly differentiated people with Alzheimer's from cognitively normal subjects 88 percent of the time when the diagnosis was Alzheimer's and 82 percent of the time when the person was cognitively normal.

In addition, Arendt found that the test results did not vary with dementia severity as measured by the Mini Mental State Exam.

"The lack of variation suggests that this test may be useful in the early stages of Alzheimer's," Arendt said. "A larger trial is underway with results expected by late summer 2008. If confirmed, it will give primary care physicians a better, more accurate and non-invasive test for Alzheimer's disease."

Spinal Fluid Marker Tracks
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SOURCE Alzheimer's Association
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