The Biomarker Discovery Center at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-School of Osteopathic Medicine has been awarded a three-year, $799,800 grant from the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation to develop a blood test that can diagnose mild cognitive impairment (MCI) caused by early-stage Alzheimer's disease.
MCI affects nearly one in every five adults older than 65, causing memory and language problems beyond those associated with normal aging. Individuals with MCI often exhibit early symptoms of dementia, and approximately 60 percent of all MCI cases are believed to be early-stage Alzheimer's disease.
The grant from the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation will help expand earlier research conducted by Robert Nagele, PhD, the director of the Biomarker Discovery Center. Dr. Nagele's published research includes recent findings that identify specific autoantibody biomarkers in the blood that can potentially be used to diagnose early stages of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.
"Using our novel biomarker discovery strategy, we have shown that it is possible to use a single drop of blood to diagnose Alzheimer's and Parkinson's with greater than 95 percent accuracy," said Nagele. "This same approach should also allow us to identify a small number of biomarkers that can also accurately diagnose MCI caused by early-stage Alzheimer's disease."
The funded project will pursue three specific goals: identify a small number of autoantibody biomarkers that can accurately (90 percent or higher) diagnose MCI cases caused by early stage Alzheimer's disease; verify the accuracy rate with a larger scale study; and construct and test a diagnostic kit that is maximally accurate for the broadest possible MCI patient population. If successful, the study will then take the steps needed for final Food and Drug Administration approval of the test.