July 15, 2009

Blood test may indicate Alzheimer’s risk

University of California-Los Angeles scientists say they've created a blood test that might help predict a person's risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

UCLA scientists said they discovered a way to measure the amount of amyloid beta that is being absorbed by immune cells in the blood. Amyloid beta forms the plaques considered the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. The researchers said that if the blood test indicates a person's immune system isn't adequately clearing amyloid beta, that finding might indicate Alzheimer's risk.

In the study, researchers took blood samples and isolated monocytes, which from birth act to eliminate waste products from a person's blood. The monocytes were incubated overnight with amyloid beta, which was labeled with a fluorescent marker. Researchers then measured the amount of amyloid beta ingested by the immune cells by assessing how much fluorescence was being emitted from each monocyte cell.

The results were found to be positive in 94 percent of the Alzheimer's patients studied and negative in 100 percent of a healthy control group.

The study was funded in part by MP Biomedicals LLC, which has received an exclusive, worldwide license to commercialize the UCLA technology and create a diagnostic blood test for public use to screen for Alzheimer's risk.

The research appeared in the May issue of the Journal of Neuroimmunology.