Alzheimer's disease is the most commonly occurring form of dementia. A new case of Alzheimer's disease is diagnosed every three seconds. Globally, 46.8 million people are affected by the disease as of 2015, and these numbers are expected to increase to 131.5 million by 2050.
With an aim to identify patients at early stages, Nestle Institute of Health Sciences (NIHS) and Swiss biopharmaceutical company AC Immune have announced a new partnership to develop an early Alzheimer's diagnostic test. AC Immune said, "The goal of the research collaboration is to develop a minimally invasive diagnostic test to identify patients at very early stages."
AC Immune's communications manager Eva Schier said, "The goal is to test for Alzheimer's by using a blood sample. The sample could potentially show traces of neurofibrillary tangles, of which the chief component is a protein called Tau. 'Tau tangles' are one of the major indicators of Alzheimer's disease. It has been impossible to detect Tau in the blood. With the proper technology, lab tests could help identify the initial biological signs of the disease. The research is still in its 'very early' stages."
AC Immune said, "It will provide its world leading expertise in the biology and pathology of Tau as well as laboratory capabilities." NIHS will provide a technology platform to the research program to help identify Tau in blood plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).
NIHS director Professor Ed Baetge said, "The overarching goal is to develop nutritional approaches and technologies that help people maintain or re-establish their cognitive vigor."
Professor Andrea Pfeifer, CEO of AC Immune, said, "Early detection is needed for the development of pharmaceutical as well as nutritional approaches."
Schier said, "The early detection should also benefit patients in other ways. The earlier you start treating patients (with Alzheimer's), the better it is. Usually, the patient goes to the doctor when they already have problems. In an ideal world one could treat patients who don't have symptoms yet."
Financial details of this collaboration were not disclosed.