Press Release

Date: 08-03-11
Name: Jerry Carey
Phone: 856-566-6171
Email: careyge@umdnj.edu

Researchers at Durin Technologies and the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine Develop Reliable, Accurate Blood Test for Alzheimer's Disease

STRATFORD, N.J. – Scientists from Durin Technologies, Inc., and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)-School of Osteopathic Medicine have developed a blood test that uses human protein microarrays to detect the presence of specific antibodies in the blood that can be used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease with unprecedented accuracy. The test has a diagnostic sensitivity of 96 percent and a specificity of 92.5 percent and has the potential to spot Alzheimer’s in its earliest stages, years before symptoms such as memory loss, poor judgment or erratic behavior appear. The same test also demonstrated the ability to distinguish Alzheimer’s from Parkinson’s disease, a closely related neurodegenerative disorder. The research team’s findings appear online in PLoS ONE.

More than 100 years after it was first described, Alzheimer’s affects nearly 36 million people worldwide, yet there remains only one definitive way to diagnose the disease – the direct examination of brain tissue following the patient’s death.

“There’s a dire need for an accurate, relatively non-invasive and inexpensive diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s,” said Robert Nagele, PhD, founder of Durin Technologies, Inc., and a professor at the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine. “A test that can not only diagnose the disease in individuals showing telltale symptoms, but possibly also detect the disease years before these symptoms appear would make early therapeutic intervention possible. This would be a significant breakthrough as pharmaceutical companies are now working feverishly to develop new drugs that can stop or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s.”

An investment in Durin Technologies, Inc., by Foundation Venture Capital Group (FVCG), LLC, a New Jersey Health Foundation affiliate that invests in start-up companies founded by researchers at UMDNJ, provided necessary funding to move Nagele’s research forward.

Nagele says this discovery may have a profound clinical impact and could ultimately be well-suited for inclusion in routine health care, especially if it can also be applied to detection of other diseases. “Because this method requires only a small blood sample, it avoids the expense and patient discomfort of other proposed Alzheimer’s diagnostic tests such as those involving neuroimaging techniques, more invasive procedures and hospitalization. Discovery of other disease-specific autoantibody signatures could also conceivably lead to the development of successful and relatively inexpensive diagnostics for a wide variety of diseases,” he said.

An early diagnostic test could also serve to rule out Alzheimer’s disease for some patients who are experiencing mild or intermittent memory loss. In about 20 percent of these cases, the patient’s memory problems result from another condition such as anxiety, depression or a reaction to medication.

Media interested in interviewing the study’s authors should contact Jerry Carey, UMDNJ News Service, at 856-566-6171 or careyge@umdnj.edu .

Durin Technologies, Inc., was founded in 2010 with the goal of developing new diagnostics and therapeutic agents for use in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. Employing technologies exclusively licensed from UMDNJ, the company intends to commercialize products to help patients suffering from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other related medical conditions.

The UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine is dedicated to providing excellence in medical education, research and health care for New Jersey and the nation. Working in cooperation with Kennedy University Hospital, its principal affiliate, the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine places an emphasis on primary health care and community health services that reflect its osteopathic philosophy, with centers of excellence that demonstrate its commitment to developing clinically skillful, compassionate and culturally competent physicians from diverse backgrounds, who are prepared to become leaders in their communities.

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