Protein studies may lead to new Alzheimer's test

Seattle A study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease (http://www.j-alz.com), published by IOS Press, entitled "Quantitative proteomics of cerebrospinal fluid from patients with Alzheimer disease," may lead to a new test for diagnosing the devastating illness. About 4 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, characterized by memory loss and an inability to use language.

"The study identified 40 times more proteins in human spinal fluid than previously known," said Drs. Thomas Montine and Jing Zhang, co-authors of the study and neuropathologists at Harborview Medical Center and the University of Washington. Montine is a UW professor of neuropathology and Zhang is a UW assistant professor of pathology. "As a result, we hope to be able to develop a much more thorough and robust test for diagnosing and predicting the progression of Alzheimer's disease," said Montine.

The study employed a proteomic method developed at the University of Washington and the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle. It identified more than 400 proteins in human spinal fluid, up to 40 times more proteins than identified by previous research models. On average, one of every five proteins identified was substantially changed in patients with Alzheimer's disease compared to older people without neurologic disease. This roster of changed proteins will serve as a platform to develop specific biomarker panels for Alzheimer's disease and other geriatric dementias.

"The implications of having more rigorous tests to diagnosis Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and dementia are enormous and could have a huge impact," said Montine.


Contact: Susan Gregg-Hanson, Harborview Medical Center
University of Washington

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