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Protein biomarkers accurately and quickly diagnose ALS, find Pittsburgh researchers

MILAN, Italy, Nov. 17 Detection of protein abnormalities in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) may allow physicians to more rapidly diagnose and better monitor drug efficacy in clinical trials for the disease, according to a novel study presented by a University of Pittsburgh researcher in Milan, Italy, today.

These findings may lead to the first test for early stage ALS, also know as Lou Gehrig's disease.

The study, presented by Robert Bowser, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine at the 11th annual meeting of the International Alliance of ALS/MND Associations and 14th International Symposium on ALS/MND, identified ALS-specific biomarkers by protein profiling of cerebrospinal fluid from 25 ALS patients and 35 control subjects.

"There are no known diagnostic biomarkers for ALS and no sensitive methods to determine whether a particular drug is working in an ALS patient, nor any way to best test drug combinations for effectiveness," said Dr. Bowser, who is associate professor of pathology and director of the ALS Tissue Bank at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "A panel of biomarkers would not only be useful in a more rapid diagnosis of ALS, but also would be a valuable tool to evaluate drug efficacy in clinical trials. Protein profiling may also identify biochemical pathways leading to cell death and new therapeutic targets."

CSF samples were obtained from recently diagnosed ALS patients and control subjects who did not have ALS. Some control subjects had no neurologic symptoms, while others had neurological diseases (including four with peripheral neuropathies, one with myopathy, one with probable Alzheimer's, one with demyelinating disorder, one with meningitis and one with autoimmune sensory motor axonopathy). CSF was used because it is in close contact with motor neurons and brain cells called glia affected by ALS and therefore may harbor high concent
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Contact: Frank Raczkiewicz
RaczkiewiczFA@upmc.edu
412-624-2607
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
17-Nov-2003


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