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Protein 'fingerprint' in spinal fluid could spot Alzheimer's disease

ITHACA, N.Y. Scientists collaborating at Cornell University in Ithaca and Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City have identified a panel of 23 protein biomarkers in cerebrospinal fluid that acts as a neurochemical "fingerprint," which doctors might use someday to identify patients living with Alzheimer's disease.

The research will be published in the December online-edition of the journal Annals of Neurology.

Right now, physicians rely on their clinical judgment to decide whether a particular patient has Alzheimer's rather than some other form of dementia. In many cases, the diagnosis remains uncertain until brain tissue is examined at autopsy.

"Our study is the first to use sophisticated proteomic methods to hone in on a group of cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers that are specific to autopsy-proven Alzheimer's disease. Those postmortem tests confirmed that the panel is over 90 percent sensitive in identifying people with Alzheimer's disease," says Kelvin Lee, the Samuel C. and Nancy M. Fleming Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology and associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Cornell.

Researchers at a variety of centers have long sought biomarkers in blood or cerebrospinal fluid that identify the presence of Alzheimer's pathology and distinguish it from other conditions that cause dementia.

"Some of these studies have met with limited success, but most have correlated their findings with patient's clinical symptoms rather than working with the gold-standard of autopsy-proven Alzheimer's," notes Norman Relkin, M.D., associate professor of clinical neurology and neuroscience at Weill Cornell and director of the Memory Disorders Program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Erin Finehout, Ph.D. 05, the lead author on the research who had been a doctoral student in Lee's laboratory, said this has great potential to impact human health. "Typically, Alzheimer's disease is not dia
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Contact: Blaine Friedlander
bpf2@cornell.edu
607-254-8093
Cornell University News Service
12-Dec-2006


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