MUHC study identifies procedure that detects early stages
MONTREAL, May 4 /CNW Telbec/ - A new blood test that will diagnose
Alzheimer's disease may soon hit the market, thanks to an innovative
study from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health
Centre (MUHC). Their findings have characterized a unique biochemical
diagnosis, which identifies patients with this devastating disorder.
This research, published in the month's issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, has implications for the half-a-million Canadian sufferers and many
millions more worldwide.
"Until now, there has been no definitive diagnostic tool for
Alzheimer's, other than postmortem analysis of brain tissue," says
senior author Dr. Vassilios Papadopoulos, director of the MUHC Research
Institute. "Our clinical study shows that a non-invasive blood test,
based on a biochemical process, may be successfully used to diagnose
Alzheimer's at an early stage and differentiate it from other types of
The biochemistry behind the test
Papadopoulos and colleagues based the Alzheimer's blood test on the
production of a brain hormone called dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA).
This hormone is present at high levels in the brain where it has a wide
range of biological effects.
The researchers were able to promote the production of DHEA, using a
chemical process called oxidation, in blood taken from non-Alzheimer's
patients. However, oxidation of blood from Alzheimer's patients did not
result in an increase of DHEA.
"There is a clear correlation between the lack of ability to produce
DHEA through oxidation in the blood and the degree of cognitive
impairment found in Alzheimer's disease," says Papadopoulos. "We
demonstrated we could accurately and repetitively detect Alzheimer's
disease, with small samples of blood. This test also allowed for
differential diagnosis of early stages of Alzheimer's disease,
suggesting this can be used as a test to diagnose the disease in its
"There are many candidate disease-modifying therapies that target the
underlying development of Alzheimer's disease, which are in clinical
trials," adds Papadopoulos. "However, the implementation of any therapy
is dependant on the reliability of the diagnosis."
Currently the diagnosis of Alzheimer's follows the sequence of family
history, information, mental assessment and the physical exam, focusing
on neurological signs.
"An accurate, easy and specific non-invasive biochemical test that
correlates with clinical findings is vital. We believe our results
demonstrate that the DHEA-oxidation blood test can be used to diagnose
Alzheimer's at a very early stage and monitor the effect of therapies
and the evolution of the disease."
About this study:
The study, A lead study on oxidative stress-mediated dehydroepiandrosterone
formation in serum: The biochemical basis for a diagnosis of
Alzheimer's disease, was authored by Georges Rammouz, Laurent Lecanu and Vassilios
Papadopoulos from the MUHC Research Institute and McGill University;
Paul Aisen from the University of California at San Diego.
Partners in research:
This work was supported by funds from the National Institutes of Health
and Samaritan Pharmaceuticals.
SOURCE The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center
For further information:
Public Affairs and Strategic Planning, MUHC
Phone: 514 934-1934 ext. 71381