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Discovered a Genetic Biomarker that Detects Lewy Body Dementia

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.

The researchers first detected the marker through a study of post mortem brain samples, in which they observed an alteration in the expression of the enzyme butyrylcholinesterase (BCHE) in the brains of patients with LBD. These data indicated that there could be genetic alterations in the BCHE gene promoter, causing changes in the expression of the gene. In fact, they found four polymorphisms in the LBD promoter region that, in certain combinations, are associated with LBD. These findings, which have been patented, make it possible to determine if a patient has LBD, distinguishing it from Alzheimer’s disease.

Currently, the patent is in its last stage of validation, which is being carried out in collaboration with neurologists from the Neurodegenerative Disease Unit of the Germans Trias Hospital and Bellvitge Hospital.

The licensing agreement with the Grifols company means the results can be applied, thus providing a simple, rapid, and effective procedure for diagnosing LBD in hospitals. Moreover, the marker can also be used to design clinical studies to help identify groups of patients with a more accurate diagnosis, removing, for example, LBD cases from a group of Alzheimer’s patients.

Grifols is a global company that for over 70 years has been providing therapeutic treatments with plasmatic proteins, technology for clinical diagnosis and pharmaceutical products for hospital use. It is now the third worldwide producer of biological drugs derived from plasma, is present in over 100 countries and is a world leader in plasma supplies, with 150 blood donation centres in the United States.

Source: EurekAlert!

Fluidigm and Olink Bioscience Bring a New Level of Protein Biomarker Discovery to the Life Science Research Market

Fluidigm and Olink Bioscience have teamed up to enable interrogation of 96 samples across 92 proteins in a single run from one microliter of sample in less than a day.

The two companies will co-market the combination of their respective products — Fluidigm’s BioMarkTM HD System and Olink Bioscience’s Proseek® Multiplex technology — bringing protein research to the Fluidigm platform and Olink Bioscience’s protein detection assays to the high-throughput, high reproducibility and unparalleled sensitivity realm of Fluidigm’s real-time PCR system.

Fluidigm’s BioMark HD System and Olink Bioscience’s Proseek Multiplex technologies provide researchers with the highest throughput multiplexing solution for protein biomarker discovery in the market today. Typically, researchers are limited to working with a few tens-of-protein biomarkers at a time. Using the BioMark HD System with the Proseek Multiplex Oncology I 96×96 Kit, a researcher can simultaneously analyze 96 human samples against a panel of 92 analytes, such as growth factors, inflammatory markers, soluble receptors, or cancer antigens. With the addition of four control analytes (two incubation controls, and extension and detection controls), researchers can now obtain results for up to 9,216 reactions in just a few hours.

The first 92-plex Olink panel, available now, is focused on biomarker discovery for cancer. Panels addressing cardiovascular disease and inflammation are expected to be offered later this year.

“Protein research is so important because these biomarkers are used to monitor health states and predict treatment outcomes in patients. One of the biggest trends in the life sciences industry today is research to uncover biomarkers that can lead to companion diagnostics,” said Simon Fredriksson, Olink Bioscience president and chief executive officer. “Conventional immunoassays have been unable to scale due to increasing antibody cross-reactivity when more and more assays are run simultaneously. Olink’s Proseek Multiplex generates high quality data even in highly multiplexed formats, and using these assays in conjunction with Fluidigm’s BioMark HD System gives protein researchers easy access to unprecedented volume and quality of data.”

The Olink Bioscience assay provides a signal when pairs of antibodies equipped with DNA reporter molecules bind to their targets to create new DNA amplicons. The amplicons are subsequently quantified by high throughput real-time PCR. With PCR’s large dynamic range and superb sensitivity, in combination with Olink Bioscience’s unique protein detection assays, the opportunities are enormous for powerful analysis of multivariate biomarker patterns.

“Analyzing 92 proteins from one microliter of sample enables new biomarker discovery and validation,” said Gajus Worthington, Fluidigm president and chief executive officer. “Many sample sources, including those from biorepositories or model organisms, are limited, and researchers can simply run out before they are able to find useful biomarker panels. The combination of Fluidigm’s BioMark HD System and Olink’s Proseek Multiplex assay represents a robust new tool for the protein research community.”

Fluidigm’s BioMark HD System is a multi-application genomics and proteomics platform that provides results equivalent to the gold standards for every respective experimental approach. The system produces high-quality data from RNA, miRNA and DNA from sample sizes down to the single cell level — and now extends to proteins. The BioMark HD System performs analysis of protein expression, gene expression, copy number variation, SNP genotyping, and digital PCR.

Olink Bioscience’s Proseek Multiplex is a multivariate protein biomarker detection kit based on Olink’s proprietary Proximity Extension Assay (PEA). It uniquely allows multiplexing of immunoassays without compromising assay performance. PEA uses pairs of oligonucleotide-labeled antibodies equipped with DNA reporter molecules to bind to proteins of interest in a highly specific manner, solving the antibody cross-reactivity dilemma that plagues and limits conventional protein assays.

Source: Business Wire

Life Technologies Signs Five-Year Agreement with the FDA

Life Technologies Corporation (NASDAQ: LIFE) recently announced that it has signed a five-year agreement with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to accelerate and advance food safety testing of E. coli and Salmonella, two foodborne contaminants commonly associated with outbreaks and/or recalls.

The collaboration consists of three distinctive projects:

  • Life Technologies will design and validate new food safety tests for the detection and identification of foodborne pathogens, with pathogen strains provided by the FDA.
  • Life Technologies will design and validate a complete workflow for food pathogen detection on the Ion PGM™ platform, while optimizing sample preparation methods.
  • The FDA will have the opportunity to evaluate new disruptive technology platforms by Life Technologies for the use in pathogen detection.

Life Technologies will use its bioinformatics resources to independently develop real-time PCR (polymerase chain reaction) assays against unique E. coli and Salmonella targets in collaboration with the FDA. It will then provide the test results for these targets to the FDA for further validation.

The FDA will use Life Technologies’ Ion PGM™ Sequencer to generate whole genome sequence information from defined bacteria, and for strains that will be excluded from detection. Life Technologies’ bioinformatics team will then analyze the genomic information and provide assays or tests to the FDA for further validation and analysis. Whole genome sequences generated under the collaboration will be added to the National Institutes of Health Genbank so they can be accessed by the food safety research community.

“We are excited to be entering this cooperative research and development agreement with the FDA as we have been working alongside them in one capacity or the other for over 10 years,” said Nir Nimrodi, Vice President and General Manager for Food Safety and Animal Health at Life Technologies. “The FDA will call on us, particularly when it comes to developing rapid detection kits. This agreement allows them to have new rapid track and trace products for rapid identification of foodborne contaminants.”

Lastly, the FDA will validate and test Life Technologies’ next-generation sequencing technologies for Salmonella investigations as part of its effort to develop new rapid detection tools that can improve the public health response to future outbreaks.

Life Technologies has a strong history of combating pathogen outbreaks. In 2011, Life Technologies developed a custom assay to accurately detect the highly pathogenic E. coli 0104:H4 bacterium that spread through Europe, killing hundreds of people.

“The assay was developed using samples supplied by scientists at University Hospital Munster, who completed the DNA sequencing and analysis work on the deadly E. coli strain using the Ion PGM™ Sequencer,” said Maneesh Jain, Ion Torrent Vice President of Marketing for Life Technologies. “Now the FDA will validate and test this same technology to understand the molecular relationship within the Salmonella pathogen in the hopes to prevent future outbreaks from occurring.”

The PGM™ offers scientists the simplest and fastest workflow, lowest cost-per-sample, and highest sensitivity for multiple basic and clinical research applications.

Source: Life Technologies

Researchers Identify Biomarkers for Possible Blood Test to Predict Suicide Risk

Indiana University School of Medicine researchers have found a series of RNA biomarkers in blood that may help identify who is at risk for committing suicide.

In a study reported Aug. 20 in the advance online edition of the Nature Publishing Group journal Molecular Psychiatry, the researchers said the biomarkers were found at significantly higher levels in the blood of both bipolar disorder patients with thoughts of suicide as well in a group of people who had committed suicide.

Principal investigator Alexander B. Niculescu III, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and medical neuroscience at the IU School of Medicine and attending psychiatrist and research and development investigator at the Richard L. Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Indianapolis, said he believes the results provide a first “proof of principle” for a test that could provide an early warning of somebody being at higher risk for an impulsive suicide act.

“Suicide is a big problem in psychiatry. It’s a big problem in the civilian realm, it’s a big problem in the military realm and there are no objective markers,” said Dr. Niculescu, director of the Laboratory of Neurophenomics at the Institute of Psychiatric Research at the IU School of Medicine.

“There are people who will not reveal they are having suicidal thoughts when you ask them, who then commit it and there’s nothing you can do about it. We need better ways to identify, intervene and prevent these tragic cases,” he said.

Over a three-year period, Niculescu and his colleagues followed a large group of patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder, completing interviews and taking blood samples every three to six months. The researchers conducted a variety of analyses of the blood of a subset of participants who reported a dramatic shift from no suicidal thoughts to strong suicidal ideation. They identified differences in gene expression between the “low” and “high” states of suicidal thoughts and subjected those findings to a system of genetic and genomic analysis called Convergent Functional Genomics that identified and prioritized the best markers by cross-validation with other lines of evidence.

The researchers found that the marker SAT1 and a series of other markers provided the strongest biological “signal” associated with suicidal thoughts.

Next, to validate their findings, working with the local coroner’s office, they analyzed blood samples from suicide victims and found that some of same top markers were significantly elevated.

Finally, the researchers analyzed blood test results from two additional groups of patients and found that high blood levels of the biomarkers were correlated with future suicide-related hospitalizations, as well as hospitalizations that had occurred before the blood tests.

“This suggests that these markers reflect more than just a current state of high risk, but could be trait markers that correlate with long term risk,” said Dr. Niculescu.

Although confident in the biomarkers validity, Dr. Niculescu noted that a limitation is that the research subjects were all male.
“There could be gender differences,” he said. “We would also like to conduct more extensive, normative studies, in the population at large.”

In addition to extending the research to females to see if the same or other markers come into play, Dr. Niculescu and colleagues plan to conduct research among other groups, such as persons who have less impulsive, more deliberate and planned subtypes of suicide.

Nonetheless, Dr. Niculescu said, “These seem to be good markers for suicidal behavior in males who have bipolar mood disorders or males in the general population who commit impulsive violent suicide. In the future we want to study and assemble clinical and socio-demographic risk factors, along with our blood tests, to increase our ability to predict risk.

“Suicide is complex: in addition to psychiatric and addiction issues that make people more vulnerable, there are existential issues related to lack of satisfaction with one’s life, lack of hope for the future, not feeling needed, and cultural factors that make suicide seem like an option.”

He said he hopes such biomarkers, along with other tools, including neuropsychological tests and socio-demographic checklists currently in development by his group, ultimately can help identify people who are at risk, leading to pre-emptive intervention, counseling, and saved lives.

“Over a million people each year world-wide die from suicide and this is a preventable tragedy”.

Study: Discovery and validation of blood biomarkers for suicidality [Molecular Psychiatry]

Source: Indiana University School of Medicine

NEBA Health Earns Patent for Integration of NEBA Biomarker with Clinician’s ADHD Evaluation

NEBA Health, LLC recently announced that Dr. Steven M. Snyder, Research and Development Vice President, has earned US Patent 8,509,884. The patent protects a key aspect of the NEBA system: integrating the biomarker with a clinician’s workup for ADHD. “NEBA is not a standalone diagnostic,” said Dr. Snyder. “After the clinician’s ADHD evaluation, NEBA helps them determine if the symptoms are due to ADHD or if further testing is warranted.”

“Integrating the NEBA biomarker with a clinician’s initial diagnostic impression can bring a clinician’s diagnosis more in line with that of multidisciplinary team,” said Dr. Snyder. Research supports that compared to a clinician alone, a multidisciplinary team is better able to determine if ADHD-like symptoms are accounted for by another condition.

In order to diagnose ADHD, a clinician not only observes criteria regarding behavioral symptoms and impairment, but also must determine whether symptoms would be better accounted for by another condition. Because ADHD shares symptoms with other disorders, the diagnosis may be difficult. According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 9.5% of all children and adolescents have an ADHD diagnosis. The ADHD diagnosis rate is increasing. CDC states that rates of ADHD diagnosis increased an average of 3% per year from 1997 to 2006 and an average of 5.5% per year from 2003 to 2007.

“In their ADHD evaluation, clinicians may be challenged in the current medical environment to determine the primary diagnosis when overlapping symptoms are present,” said Howard Merry, President of NEBA Health. “We are delighted that the USPTO has awarded Dr. Snyder the patent. It covers NEBA’s core technology, and it’s another validation point for the 7 years we spent developing and validating NEBA.”

Source: PR Newswire