Spot the Disease with New Biomarkers

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The researchers from the University of Washington and Harborview Medical Center have used an advanced technique to identify biomarkers, that can indicate whether a patient has a particular neurodegenerative disease, or determine the progression of a disease. Searching for biomarkers is nothing new, but the researchers used a proteomics system, called iTRAQ, that relies on isotopic labelling of protein molecules. The system could help a physician determine the amount of a biomarker a patient may have in his body, which can help with diagnosis.

In a large multi-site study, the researchers identified more than 1,500 potential biomarkers in cerebrospinal fluid from patients with one of three neurodegenerative diseases: Alzheimer's, Parksinson's, or dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). Researchers identified different sets of potential biomarkers corresponding to each disease; each of the proteins are linked specifically to one of the diseases.

"We're getting very close to being able to use these biomarkers for the clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, and dementia with Lewy bodies," said the study's lead author, Dr. Jing Zhang, associate professor of pathology at the UW. "This is a major improvement on other biomarker detection techniques."

The biomarkers identified in this study need to be tested in a larger population of patients before becoming part of a full diagnostic tool, Zhang said, but these results are promising. The extensive number of proteins that the research team found in patients with neurodegenerative diseases will likely help researchers create a large panel of biomarkers that could be used in a clinical diagnosis and in monitoring disease progression.; Source: University of Washington