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Could a blood test for the early detection of Alzheimer’s be on the horizon?

Aug 29 2014

By Professor Pablo Moscato

My name is Prof. Pablo Moscato and when I walk out of my office, my quest to find early markers of Alzheimer’s Disease continues on the other side of the globe. Two of my international collaborators are either starting the day or preparing to do it so, one in London, UK and the other in Baltimore, USA.
Professor Pablo Moscato

Back in 2008, and later in 2011 and 2012, myself and computational scientists at the Information-based Medicine Program of the HMRI, showed that there is hope to come up with a blood-based test for screening and early detection of Alzheimer’s Disease.

In all three cases, our findings were based on novel mathematical methods locally developed and applied to datasets available on the public domain thus originating from international collaborators.

Our expertise and results have attracted attention overseas and an invitation for collaboration ensued. Today I, together with Dr. Madhav Thambisetty (National Institute on Ageing, National Institutes of Health, USA ) and Dr. Cristina Legido-Quigley, (Kings College London, UK) have initiated a project to try to identify markers in human plasma that could relate with the changes in brain volume and cognition in non-demented older individuals.

This joint collaboration now links the Information-based Medicine Program at HMRI with the activities of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging and a world-class proteomic facility and expertise in the UK.

The project aims at identifying changes in metabolism that leave some “signatures” in human blood. More than 130 individuals will be measured at different time points and see how the observed changes correlate with the cognitive status of the participants of the study.

How is all this work funded? Well, we have to solve that issue as well. At the moment my team is supported for 2014 by an anonymous local donor for this pilot study. Thus, late at night, while you sleep, the group members may be discussing via Skype, how to fund this project and make of it a larger international collaboration.
*** Professor Pablo Moscato is Co-Director of the Priority Research Centre for Bioinformatics, Biomarker Discovery and Information-Based Medicine (CIBM)