University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) scientists are working on a simple blood test that may help predict Alzheimer's risk.
They say amyloid beta forms the plaques considered the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, and if the immune system isn't adequately clearing amyloid beta, it may indicate Alzheimer's risk.
MP Biomedicals LLC, a global life sciences and diagnostics company dedicated to Alzheimer's disease research, has received an exclusive, worldwide license to commercialize the UCLA technology and to create a diagnostic blood test for public use to screen for Alzheimer's risk.
"Early diagnosis is the cornerstone of preventive approaches to Alzheimer's disease," said Dr. Milan Fiala, lead author of the UCLA study and a researcher at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.
"We are pleased that the process we've identified using immune cells to help predict Alzheimer's risk will be further developed by MP Biomedicals," Fiala added.
"We are excited by the opportunity to forward the UCLA science in creating a cost-effective blood test to screen for Alzheimer's risk that could be used in any hospital or lab," said Milan Panic, CEO of MP Biomedicals.
During the study, researchers took blood samples and isolated monocytes, which from birth act as the immune system's janitors, traveling through the brain and body and gobbling up waste products, including amyloid beta.
The monocytes were incubated overnight with amyloid beta, which was labeled with a fluorescent marker.
Using a common laboratory method known as flow cytometry, the researchers then measured the amount of amyloid beta ingested by the immune cells by assessing how much fluorescence was being emitted from each monocyte cell.
The 18 Alzheimer's disease patients in the study showed the least uptake of amyloid beta.
The results were found to be positive in 94 percent of the Alzheimer's patients, and negative in 100 percent of the university professor control group.
In addition, the results were found to be positive in 60 percent of study participants who suffered from mild cognitive impairment, a condition that increases the risk of developing Alzheimer's.
"Similar to screening patients for heart disease risk by a cholesterol test, a positive result for Alzheimer's risk in some patients may suggest further interventions and advanced diagnostics, such as a brain PET scan and neurocognitive testing," said Fiala.
The study has been reported in the Journal of Neuroimmunology.