Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. It causes enormous suffering in both the patients and relatives, and the disease costs society more than all cardiovascular and cancer healthcare combined.
An important reason why there currently are no available drugs for Alzheimer’s disease, is that the brain damage begins long before the dementia is diagnosed. This means that patients participating in clinical Alzheimer’s studies often have irreversible damage that cannot be stopped.
Biomarkers are needed
Biomarkers that can identify who will develop the disease and who will not, early on, are needed to increase the chances of finding a successful drug for Alzheimer’s disease.
Another important area for biomarkers in Alzheimer’s disease, is the ability to show the effects of a drug in clinical trials. This is especially important with this disease as it progresses slowly, and without biomarkers, a clinical trial could take ten years or more.
Researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy, the University of Gothenburg, have, in a large study, reviewed over 5,000 scientific articles and included 231 articles that discuss 15 biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease in blood and cerebrospinal fluid. In total, this study includes 16,699 patients with Alzheimer’s disease and 13,018 control subjects.
“We have been able to show that T-tau, P-tau, Aβ42 and NFL in cerebrospinal fluid are good in differentiating between patients with Alzheimer’s disease from control subjects, while NSE, VLP-1, HFABP and YKL-40 are more moderate,” says Bob Olsson, Researcher at Sahlgrenska Academy.
“We were also able to show that T-tau, P-tau, Aβ42 in cerebrospinal fluid are good in differentiating between patients with mild cognitive impairment that will develop Alzheimer’s disease versus those with mild cognitive that remain stable.”
In parallel with the study, the researchers have developed an online database together with Alzforum, an interest group that functions as a platform for spreading information and the latest research results on Alzheimer’s disease.
The new database, AlzBiomarker, gathers data on biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Other data on the studies, graphic tools for visualization of the biomarkers in interest and a list of the biomarkers that work best for Alzheimer’s disease are also included. The database is continuously updated, which is why the list may change over time, as new scientific advances are being made.
“The database combines several decades of research on Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers. It will be an invaluable aid to anyone doing research on Alzheimer’s disease and increase the chances of finding successful drugs,” says Bob Olsson.
The article CSF and blood biomarkers for the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis was published, online, in Lancet Neurology, on April 8.
Bob Olsson, associate Professor, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg
Henrik Zetterberg, Professor, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg
BY: Johanna Hillgren