Healthcare Industry News:  dementia 

Diagnostics Neurology

 News Release - October 15, 2007

Scientists Report First Blood Test to Diagnose Alzheimer's Disease

Signaling Proteins Used to Classify and Predict Alzheimer's dementia

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 15 (HSMN NewsFeed) -- A team of international researchers today reported they have identified a group of cell-signaling proteins found in blood that serve as a unique "voiceprint" that can not only be used to diagnose Alzheimer's disease, but also classify and predict presymptomatic individuals who will eventually develop the memory-robbing disorder. The study describing the new test appears in this week's online version of the scientific journal, Nature Medicine.

"Our technology enables us to 'listen' to the chatter of cells communicating with each other and determine if there's anything abnormal," said Tony Wyss-Coray, Ph.D., a lead scientist in the study, and a co-founder of San Francisco-based Satoris Inc. "Our data indicate blood contains a highly specific, biological signature that can characterize Alzheimer's disease years before a clinical diagnosis can be made." Dr. Wyss-Coray is also associate professor of neurology at Stanford University School of Medicine.

The study concludes a yearlong effort led by researchers at Satoris, in collaboration with leading dementia centers in the United States and Europe that included Stanford University School of Medicine, the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, the University of California San Diego, the Oregon Health & Science University, Goteborg University, and the University of Genoa.

"Satoris is poised to enable early detection of this devastating disease, which we hope will both accelerate the development of better medicines and assist physicians in patient diagnosis," said Patrick Lynn, president and CEO of Satoris. "Our vision is to combine early diagnosis with early treatment, sparing patients the worst effects of Alzheimer's disease."

There is no cure for Alzheimer's, a degenerative brain disease that affects 4.5 million Americans. Experts predict the toll may more than triple by 2050 as the population grays. Since its destructive effects may exist years before symptoms are apparent, much damage can occur prior to diagnosis.

Alzheimer's diagnosis is costly, and largely dependent on the expertise of the physician. As a result, it is estimated that only 60 percent of cases are diagnosed, leaving 1.8 million undiagnosed patients. Autopsy is the only way to conduct a definitive diagnosis for the disease.

"The early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease would be greatly improved by the discovery of biological markers that correlate strongly with pathological and clinical signs of the disease, and precede the appearance of clinical symptoms," said Todd Golde, M.D., Ph.D., professor, chair of the department of neuroscience at the Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville. "This blood test, if replicated in larger studies, is a major discovery that may lead to more effective therapies to slow the disease's progression or improve existing symptoms, reducing overall healthcare costs."

Tuning into the Language of Cells

The researchers collected a total of 259 blood samples from individuals with presymptomatic to late-stage Alzheimer's disease, and from those without the disease. Using so-called "signal profiling," they were able to simultaneously measure the relative abundance of 120 known proteins found in plasma that function as chemical messengers between blood cells, brain cells, and cells of the immune system.

Statistical analyses of the two groups of blood samples showed there were 18 proteins in the Alzheimer's samples that expressed distinctly different concentrations from those in normal individuals. The different protein expression pattern found in the Alzheimer's samples was statistically significant, with nearly 90 percent accuracy in diagnosing and characterizing the disease.

Lynn underscored the new blood test will need further testing and corroboration before it is ready for commercialization. Aiming at both the clinical diagnostics market and improving pharmaceutical drug development, Satoris will be commercializing the Alzheimer's blood test, which is slated for market introduction -- first as a research-use only test in early 2008, followed by a clinical diagnostic test upon regulatory clearance. For more information see:

Source: Satoris Inc

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