Alzheimer's: Biochip blood test detects disease risk

Researchers have developed a faster, more affordable method of identifying patients more susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease using a biochip-based blood test, with the same accuracy as a standard DNA test.
[Blood testing in laboratory]
Biochip blood testing for Alzheimer’s disease risk provides a faster alternative to standard testing.

Standard molecular tests that analyze DNA can be both expensive and time-consuming. However, the biochip test, produced by Randox Laboratories, can conduct multiple tests on a single blood sample, which has both time- and cost-saving benefits, as well as a rapid diagnosis.

The apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene plays a key role in lipid metabolism and is recognized as one of the most significant genetic risk factors for dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.

There are three versions of the APOE gene: e2, e3, and e4. The e4 version increases a person’s risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and it may also be associated with an earlier onset of memory loss.

Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. Symptoms develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.

One APOE gene is inherited from each parent. If a person inherits one APOE variant from a parent, they have a three times greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. A person who inherits APOE variants from both parents is 8-12 times more likely to develop the disease.

Around 25 percent of the population inherits one copy of the APOE e4 gene. Inheriting two copies increases a person’s disease risk by 10 times or more.

The biochip blood test accurately detects an individual’s APOE4 status from a plasma sample, which – in combination with medical and family history, medication, and lifestyle – can help offer information, advice, and personalized medicine for the patient.

“This is the first time that we have used this biochip technology to test for an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease,” says Emma C. Harte, Ph.D., a research scientist at Randox Laboratories. “This type of testing is important in our quest to understand and diagnose Alzheimer’s and empower patients to understand risks, consider medication, and even make early lifestyle changes.”

Biochip and standard molecular diagnostic test results exactly the same

The research, presented at the 68th AACC Annual Scientific Meeting & Clinical Lab Expo in Philadelphia, verified the accuracy of the biochip blood test by analyzing 384 samples and comparing the results to that of a standard molecular diagnostic test.

With colleagues at the Medical University of Vienna, Austria, Randox Laboratories found that on comparing the results of the two tests, they were in 100 percent agreement.

Biochip tests allow clinicians and researchers to gain results in 3 hours, enabling doctors to assess quickly the risk of an individual developing Alzheimer’s disease.

“Pairing this test with medical and family history for risk of Alzheimer’s disease has the real potential to advance personalized medicine. This fast, accurate testing will allow doctors and patients to make more informed choices earlier to potentially slow the possible progress of Alzheimer’s.”

Emma C. Harte, Ph.D.

An individual’s APOE status has been shown to affect pre-symptomatic risk, diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment response for a variety of diseases – in particular, Alzheimer’s disease. The biochip test offers a quick, cost-effective alternative to standard DNA testing.

Read about an Alzheimer’s drug that targets a protein that plays a role in the disease.

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