Israel's NeuroQuest targets summer start for Alzheimer's blood Dx pivotal trial

Israel's NeuroQuest will begin a clinical validation trial this summer for a new blood diagnostic test designed for early detection of Alzheimer's, ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Plans call for recruiting the first of 170 patients for the trial at that point, the online news magazine Israel21c reports. The Harvard Clinical Research Institute will oversee the trial, the story notes, which will take place at four different centers including Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, MA. And $500,000 in venture funding will help the company fund the trial, according to the article.

The premise of the diagnostic is simple. NeuroQuest explains on its website that the test measures cellular immunological components in the blood needed for normal brain functioning. When these components run amok and malfunction, the idea is that neurodegenerative diseases are enabled to make their deadly advance, and so their malfunctioning status serves as a key biomarker for disease diagnosis. Initial trials in Israel led to an 87% accuracy rate and 85% specificity rate for Alzheimer's and ALS detection, according to the story, well above the key, medically significant 70% threshold for most blood tests.

The key here is detecting Alzheimer's or dementia on the early side, which researchers believe will increase the likelihood of finding successful treatments. That quest, and finding reliable diagnostics for Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases that could get the job done, has become a major task of life sciences companies and academic researchers alike.

Researchers in Finland, for example, are developing a software tool that could aid in generating an early Alzheimer's diagnosis. And in a major step last month, EU regulators approved Eli Lilly's ($LLY) Amyvid imaging agent with PET imaging for adult patients under evaluation for Alzheimer's disease and other cognitive conditions. The FDA gave a more cautious approval last April, allowing Amyvid to be used to help rule out Alzheimer's but not solely to diagnose it.

But all of that simply brings a relatively expensive test to market. As the story explains, PET scans can cost as much as $6,000, which could limit the test's wider use. NeuroQuest sees its blood test as a far cheaper alternative, assuming that it can pass clinical trials and gain regulatory approvals in key markets such as Europe and the U.S.

- read the full Israel21c story