The Germans Trias i Pujol Health Sciences Research Institute (IGTP) and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) have discovered the first genetic biomarker to detect Lewy body dementia (LBD), a disease that can be confused with Alzheimer's. This biomarker is found in 20% of cases and differentiates one of the sub-groups of the pathology. Licensed to the Grifols company, it will lead to more precise diagnosis and treatment.
Lewy body dementia (LBD) is the second cause of dementia after Alzheimer's disease. The symptoms of both diseases are very similar, since in both cases there is a gradual deterioration in mental capacity, affecting memory, thought processes, behaviour and physical activity. These similarities mean that some patients with LBD are wrongly diagnosed and treated with the usual drugs for Alzheimer's. But this treatment causes adverse reactions in approximately half of these patients, making the disease much worse in some cases.
Currently there is no specific test to diagnose LBD. In practice, various neurological and neuropsychological tests are used to detect the disease and its possible overlap with other disorders, but clinical diagnosis of LBD is not very accurate.
The research, conducted by the IGTP and the UAB, has led to the discovery of the first genetic biomarker, found in 20% of LBD cases, and differentiating between one sub-group of LBD and Alzheimer's disease. "Although this marker only detects a certain number of LBD sufferers, it significantly increases diagnostic sensitivity to the disease and these patients can get an accurate diagnosis and therefore the right treatment", explains Dr Katrin Beyer, head of the research project and belonging to the Group of Structural and Molecular Pathology, Department of Pathology at the Germans Trias Hospital and Institute.