MP Biomedicals obtained an exclusive, worldwide license to commercialize an Alzheimer’s diagnostic based on discoveries made at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The UCLA team in May reported that they found a way to measure the amount of amyloid beta that is being absorbed by immune cells in the blood. They suggested that if the immune system isn't adequately clearing amyloid beta, it may indicate Alzheimer's risk.
Other blood tests for Alzheimer's measure inflammation and infection, according to Miodrag Micic, vp of R&D for MP Biomedicals. These factors present in other diseases like atherosclerosis and may complicate the interpretation of results, he points out.
In their study, which was partially funded by MP Biomedicals, the UCLA scientists took blood samples and isolated monocytes including amyloid beta. The monocytes were incubated overnight with amyloid beta, which was labeled with a fluorescent marker. Using flow cytometry, the investigators then measured the amount of amyloid beta ingested by the immune cells.
The 18 Alzheimer's disease patients in the study showed the least uptake of amyloid beta. The healthy control group, which consisted of 14 university professors, demonstrated the highest uptake.
The method was able to distinguish the Alzheimer's disease patients with adequate sensitivity and specificity, according to the UCLA team. The results were found to be positive in 94% of patients and negative in for the entire control group. Additionally, the data was positive in 60% of participants who suffered from mild cognitive impairment.
“Patients and control subjects were also tracked over time to see if their immune response changed,” says Milan Fiala, M.D., lead author of the UCLA study, which appeared in the May issue of the Journal of Neuroimmunology. “For example, an Alzheimer's disease patient over time showed declining results, while a university professor continued to demonstrate a high uptake of amyloid beta.” Dr. Fiala is also a consultant for MP Biomedicals.