The life sciences industry has struggled to make genuine advances in the battle against Alzheimer's. But a German biopharmaceutical company and a Dutch research hospital are among those who aren't giving up: They'll partner to assess a number of biomarker assays designed to help spot the disease.
Specifically, Probiodrug AG will work with VU University Medical Center's Alzheimer's research facility in Amsterdam on the project. Together, they'll evaluate assays designed to correlate cerebrospinal fluid concentrations of pyroglutamated amyloid beta with specific stages of Alzheimer's disease. Pyroglutamated amyloid beta is essentially a supertoxic peptide researchers have long linked to Alzheimer's-related cognitive decline. The molecular biomarker assays under consideration would compare cerebrospinal fluid samples from Alzheimer's disease patients at different stages of their disease versus those from a control group.
With Alzheimer's drugs in development largely failing so far, researchers and companies continue to turn toward finding ways to definitively diagnose the disease much earlier than it is now. The idea is that spotting Alzheimer's on the earlier side (particularly with specific biomarkers) could enable the creation of treatments that actually halt Alzheimer's decline by hitting it before the brain suffers too much damage. And while there are some diagnostic markers for Alzheimer's, there are no validated therapeutic biomarkers to treat the disease, Philip Scheltens, director of the Alzheimer Center at the VU University Medical Center and a professor of cognitive neurology, noted in a statement.
In the quest to come up with Alzheimer's diagnostic tools that spot the disease early, researchers are trying to think outside of the box. Boston startup Akili Interactive Labs, for example, recently signed an agreement with Pfizer ($PFE) to see if its mobile video game platform can help diagnose Alzheimer's at its earliest stages. Johns Hopkins is pursuing early dementia and Alzheimer's diagnoses by revamping how researchers analyze the results of cognitive tests.
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