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February 6, 2013

Blood test for Alzheimer’s

An Israeli company’s experimental blood test can detect dementia while the disease is still mild enough to treat more effectively.

By Abigail Klein Leichman”

A simple blood test could be on the way for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease. Image via Shutterstock.com

A simple blood test could be on the way for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease. Image via Shutterstock.com*

“Today one of the main weaknesses in the Alzheimer’s area is that patients don’t find out until it’s too late,” says Ilya Budik, CEO of NeuroQuest, an Israeli company developing a novel blood test for early detection of the most common cause of dementia worldwide.


“There are many new therapies under development, and the most successful trials are showing the earlier a patient is treated, the better likelihood of responding to the treatment,” he says.

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A portfolio company of the government-supported Misgav Venture Accelerator in northern Israel, NeuroQuest recently received $500,000 in a funding round led by the InterTech Group in South Carolina and the Maryland/Israel Trendlines Fund.

This half a million dollars will enable NeuroQuest to progress towards a validation clinical trial at four US medical centers, and to establish a US development center, possibly alongside its South Carolina partners.

Its first human trials in Israel showed NeuroQuest’s test — which is based on 20 years of research by Prof. Michal Schwartz of the Weizmann Institute of Science — to be 87 percent accurate with an 85% specificity rate in detecting Alzheimer’s and ALS, two common neurodegenerative diseases. With blood tests, Budik explains, anything over 70% is considered medically significant.

“That gave us proof of concept for Prof. Schwartz’s discovery that certain parts of the immune system are involved in protecting the central nervous system and also in healing it from neurodegenerative diseases or neural injury,” Budik tells ISRAEL21c.

Encouraged by these successful results, the company went into a more aggressive mode to determine how its niche product could fit specifically into the global Alzheimer’s market. NeuroQuest hired new management and built up a team with experience in running clinical trials in this space.

And because the Alzheimer’s population in Israel is too small for major clinical testing, NeuroQuest brought aboard Dr. Jacobo Mintzer, chief of geriatric psychiatry and co-director of Alzheimer’s research and clinical programs at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).

Aside from his prominence and expertise in the field, Mintzer did his post-doc at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School and is married to an Israeli, Budik relates, “so he was excited to get his hands on a novel project from Israel.”

That connection put NeuroQuest on the itinerary of a November 2011 business opportunity-seeking mission from the South Carolina-Israel Collaboration, headed by Jonathan Zucker of InterTech. The meeting paved the way for the recent investment round.

Right place at the right time

Budik says the first of 170 test subjects will be recruited beginning next summer. The trials will be overseen by the Harvard Clinical Research Institute, and Harvard Medical School is to be one of the four testing centers.

“A clinical research organization allows the trial to be more impartial and controlled, and benefits the company because the trial is run by specialists making sure it’s safe for the patients,” explains Budik. “We’re just doing a blood draw, but we still want to make sure everyone involved is involved for the right reasons.”

If the trials go as hoped, NeuroQuest could find itself in the right place at the right time. That’s because in late 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration approved Amyvid, a radioactive diagnostic agent for positron emission tomography (PET) imaging of the brain to see the density of harmful plaques in adults being evaluated for Alzheimer’s and other causes of cognitive decline. It wasn’t possible until now to evaluate these plaques in a living patient.

However, a PET scan costs up to $6,000 – meaning that Amyvid will not be widely available. Budik says that a relatively inexpensive positive blood test using NeuroQuest’s technology could provide enough cause for a health insurer to authorize the highly accurate PET imaging. So the two breakthroughs may work well together for the greater good.

“We envision that in 10 to 15 years, the Alzheimer’s market will look like the cancer and heart disease market looks today,” says Budik, who is in talks with other potential investors and partners. “One doesn’t want to find out one has heart disease if a heart attack is coming tomorrow. One wants to take medication to lower cholesterol and blood pressure at the first sign of high cholesterol so that the heart attack might not happen at all.”

NeuroQuest’s management hopes to provide the same early-warning capability to people in the first stages of Alzheimer’s, ALS, Parkinson’s and other progressive neurodegenerative diseases.

Posted by Ted Belman @ 9:35 pm | 23 Comments »



23 Responses to Blood test for Alzheimer’s

  1. ArnoldHarris says:

    That’s just fine; a blood test to detect dementia while the disease is still mild enough to treat more effectively.

    As chance would have it, the State of Israel has been suffering for some time for a national case of dementia, and the periodic Knesset elections are the blood test for detecting the disease.

    The latest such blood test shows that there is no overriding national will to rapidly populate even Area C of the Judea-Samaria heartland of the ancient Jewish nation. Just more of the same old same-olds of Israeli politics, involving unstable negotiations leading to equally unstable coalitions among political parties that have few or no goals in common. This particular Jewish version of national Alzheimer’s includes an all but insane assumption that somehow, through some sort of diplomacy, possibly carried out in the now-traditional Heinrich Kissinger mode, peace can be made between a gang of blatherskite Arab regimes — nearly all of which are either terminally unstable or are outright dictatorships led by little Islamic Hitlers.

    In the face of such a national disease, which may well have been built into the social psychology of the Israeli electorate as their dreadful inheritance from the shtetls and Judenraten of the Ashkenazi diaspora over the multiple millenia of national degradation of the Jewish nation, one must ask the basic question:

    “So, where do we go from here, folks?”

    More accords that take away chunks of the homeland of the Jewish nation, using the well-known salami tactics of every American administration since Franklin Delano Roosevelt met with the king of Saudi Arabia aboard a US naval vessel parked temporarily in the Suez Canal, just three months before he died?

    Or to put it more directly, what does it take to get rid of a Binyamin Netanyahu and replace his with a real Jewish national leader such as Yitzchak Shamir? Or is this Netanyahy the best that the Jewish nation can come up with?

    Arnold Harris
    Mount Horeb WI

  2. Canadian Otter says:

    CONNECTION WITH BEEF CONSUMPTION – Alzheimer’s connection with beef consumption was discussed years ago, during the Mad Cow scandal, Then the media and governments decided to quiet this down because it hurts the beef industry. ~~~~~ Beef testing here in Canada (and I suppose elsewhere as well) is a complete joke, unless it’s for export, and even then, who knows how well it’s done. ~~~~~ Alzheimer, at least in its epidemic form, is new. Old people used to get a little senile as they got into their eighties and older. Now people in their forties are getting Alzheimer’s. ~~~~~ Since science works hand in glove with business, we can’t expect the scientific establishment to recommend the avoidance of meat.

    In the meantime, it’s best to be a vegetarian and raise children as vegetarians. Meat, fish, poultry, they are all contaminated with one thing or another. Eggs are a good substitute for meat. Nuts are great source of protein and vitamins. And whenever possible buy organic. – http://www.amazon.com/Dying-Hamburger-Processing-Epidemic-Alzheimers/dp/product-description/031234015X

  3. ArnoldHarris says:

    CO,

    I don’t know about fish and poultry contamination in Canada. But down here in southern Wisconsin, they are contaminated almost exclusively with high prices. Depending, of course, on externalities of specific farm-to-market economic conditions. I know what I’m writing about; we eat almost no beef, but lots of fish and eggs (actually, egg whites), and chicken about once per week. (My wife and I detest turkey.)

    Arnold Harris
    Mount Horeb WI

  4. Canadian Otter says:

    How to make a pancake, the complicated way, in just one minute, from chicken to your plate – Device took four engineers more than 200 hours to build – Wallace and Gromit would love it!
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2274325/Wallace-Gromit-style-contraption-turns-freshly-laid-eggs-pancakes-just-MINUTE.html#axzz2KAMt7ODr

    Earth at night from Space, photo gallery. First picture shows Israel. – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/picture-galleries/9726888/Black-marble-new-high-resolution-satellite-images-of-the-Earth-at-night.html

  5. Shy Guy says:

    Canadian Otter Said:

    Earth at night from Space, photo gallery.

    Thanks. I now have a new Windows desktop background. I found the full resolution copy of the pick here. I used pic editing software to crop it exactly to my screen’s resolution, with Israel at the center. A beauty. Even without cropping, the pic makes for an excellent desktop pic.

  6. monostor says:

    @ ArnoldHarris:

    Soooooooo true! I join your club on this one (on Israel, not the beef).

  7. Canadian Otter says:

    @ Shy Guy:
    Great idea for a desktop background. I’m saving that picture too.

  8. Michael Devolin says:

    I actually work in the meat business, have since I was 15, and they’re pretty strict. Two of uncles were meat inspectors. The problems are always connected to those meat inspectors (from supervisors on down) who are lazy and without morals, and to farmers who let their animals sleep in their own shit and have no care about what they feed the animals (this is how Mad Cow happened). I worked on farms when I was a kid (I grew up on a farm), and I’ve seen farmers take a grain bag and wipe shit off the udder and put the milkers back on. I’ve seen suction cups drop in the manure catch behind the milkcow and the farmer refuse to clean it, wipe it off with his hand and put it back on the udder. The problems are wide and varied and not always with inspection. And this goes on both sides of the border. As for organic beef, most of that beef is the same as “dyer” cattle: beef so skinny they’re ready to die on their feet. You can’t buy organic beef that is actuall worth the money you’re paying for, no matter how young, because it’s so skinny and the eyes of the loins are so small it’s a joke. Who wants to buy beef like that for higher prices than the beef well fed with grain and corn? As my dad would say, “Anyone who’d eat that shit would chase cars.”

    But I will say this: whenever there is a scare, the inspectors are never blamed because of the fact that any packing house brave enough to direct the blame on the inspectors signs their own business death warrant: the inspectors will go after them with so many infractions that it will shut them down. Long story…

  9. Canadian Otter says:

    @ Michael Devolin:
    You say organic beef is too skinny to be worth the money. I don’t understand why. All beef used to be organic. Beautiful cattle grazing outside, fat and healthy, eating grass. That was many decades ago, in the olden times. These days cattle are raised confined in cruel conditions, fed tons of antibiotics, growth hormones, and disgusting stuff. Organic beef is supposed to be free of that, but who knows for sure. That’s why I think it’s better to go vegetarian.

    ~~~~~~~~~

    People who know about PINK SLIME find it hard to eat meat again. – Ammonia is added to discarded bits from the abbatoir to turn them into steak. No one can tell the difference –

    A way to turn bacteria-ridden scraps from the abattoir floor into a substance called “pink slime”, which is then sold to unwitting consumers of hamburgers, tacos and other beef-based junk products. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/news/nutrition-america-awakens-to-the-sour-taste-of-pink-slime-7593484.html

    Bon appetit.

  10. Canadian Otter says:

    Much disease can be traced to stress and environmental conditions.

    Government disposes of hazardous materials by feeding them to humans, or mixing them with stuff you are in daily contact with.

    The case of fluoride, a chemical waste classified as extremely hazardous, is being dumped into your water supply. http://www.naturalnews.com/005900_Fluoridation_fluorosilicic_acid.html

    And this recent news: U.S. government to allow radioactive waste metals to be ‘recycled’ into consumers products like belt buckles, silverware. http://www.naturalnews.com/038999_radioactive_waste_recycled_silverware.html

    China has been doing that for years. Anything with metal you buy these days may be recycled radioactive material. A few items were caught last year, but that’s the tip of the iceberg.

  11. Michael Devolin says:

    “These days cattle are raised confined in cruel conditions, fed tons of antibiotics, growth hormones, and disgusting stuff. Organic beef is supposed to be free of that, but who knows for sure. That’s why I think it’s better to go vegetarian.”

    I agree, Canadian Otter, about the crap they feed them. But I could never become a vegetarian. Hey, I was raised on the farm and in the bush, so I’m hooked on meat. My oldest daughter is a moderate vegetarian.

    About the “pink slime” I know nothing as I have only worked primarily in small town abbatoirs. I did work at Gainers in Edmonton, but I’ve never seen this practice done there or anywhere else.

    As for conditions, that’s what really bothers me. My father despised farmers who failed to “bed” their cattle and instead let them lay in their own crap. Totally immoral. And I will never eat veal because of how they keep these animals locked up in small plastic “houses” until they slaughter them. I think it is totally disgusting.

    I agree with everything you say, Canadian Otter (I may have used exaggerations about the “skinny” organic beef), only I don’t like a lot of veggies (except with my meat!).

  12. Canadian Otter says:

    @ Michael Devolin:
    Thank you for your insider’s perspective re. meat inspection. By the way, I also lived in Edmonton, Alberta, twelve freezing long winters. ~~~~~ For non-Canadians, Edmonton has real winters. Eight months of freezing cold, arctic winds, and tons of snow and ice. Temperatures of -30 are normal, and even -40 Celsius with the wind chill factor. After eight months of that comes the slush season, another month or so. Then after only one week of spring, it’s summer, very hot and with swarms of mosquitos everywhere. (That’s how I remember it, anyway.) ~~~ So I made my escape and moved to the proper place for an otter, Vancouver Island. I found work right away and things went rather swimmingly since.

    Back to the subject of meat. When I was expecting a baby, and although I was already a vegetarian, I kept having a craving for steak-and-eggs. So I ate a lot of that. But only for a few weeks. :-)

  13. Andrew says:

    I saw my grandfather die of alzheimers. If I get it, I will top myself. I’m not going through that.

  14. Michael Devolin says:

    @ Canadian Otter:
    Did you happen to notice all the Ukrainian antisemites there? They’re thicker than thieves at a fair. Lot’s of German antisemites too, old school.

  15. Canadian Otter says:

    @ Michael Devolin:
    Canadians are generally polite, and that’s good enough for me. I spent many years in another country with unspoken anti-Semitism as well, so I did not notice much difference. I have no illusions. Besides, I had challenges during those years that kept me too busy to care. ~~~~~ Sometimes I do miss the fresh snow, though. It can make any city look absolutely magical. I remember going out in -20 degrees C for my lunch hour walk on the crunchy snow listening to classical music. Snow was OK. What I really hated was when the sidewalks became ice rinks.

  16. beatriz kamer says:

    A noticia era sobre um simples exame de sangue que pode ajudar a tentar curar a doe’nça de Alzheimer…e cada um ficou escrevendo sobre o que acredita ser melhor para comer?????
    Eu queria poder fazer este exame. Onde posso procurar, quanto custa? etc……

  17. Michael Devolin says:

    Those I speak of were not real Canadians, not to me. As for the icy sidewalks, that’s when we drop the puck.

    I love walking in the bush in the winter, Canadian Otter, especially when the snows frozen enough to walk on top of. right now up here you can walk for miles on the beaver ponds. It’s neat looking at the shore where you usually stand looking the opposite direction in the summer. My nephew met up with a big wolf the other day. Said he just about soiled himself before the wolf turned and ran the other way.

  18. yamit82 says:

    @ Canadian Otter:

    horsemeat scandal

    Poor Horses!!! British and French dupes :D

  19. Michael Devolin says:

    @ yamit82:
    Very nice, Yamit. Beautiful landscapes. I spend a lot of time in the bush too. We built a cabin up there. It’s rugged country, but it’s SO beautiful. The pictures of the frozen lakes in the video reminds me of walking on the beaver ponds up here. There’s no way to describe the feeling when you’re up there walking alone. I talk to HaShem a lot then. As well, just to be safe, I carry toilet paper with me in case I run into the wolves.

    Thanks again, Yamit.

  20. Canadian Otter says:

    @ Michael Devolin:
    @ yamit82:

    Michael says

    There’s no way to describe the feeling when you’re up there walking alone

    I envy you. Had I been a guy maybe I would have lived alone in a cabin with only the company of animals and a gun or two. At least part time. But as a female I need to feel safe. I’ve compromised by living in a city where nature is everywhere. I live only a block from the ocean. The beach can still give me the illusion of being away from civilization. There’s also a huge park nearby. No wolves or bears, but lots of ducks, blue herons and squirrels. ~~~ Sometimes we’re treated to the sight of orcas, and eagles are common. People in the outskirts of the city are encroaching on animal territory, so here we get visited by deer and the occasional lost and hungry cougar or black bear. ~~~~~ I think that many of us are feeling an increasing need to escape – if only mentally – from the crazy world of “civilization” we inhabit. Life is not really getting better. What we call progress is just better technology that sometimes is out of control and threatens our health. Processed foods looks attractive but are no good for us. The most basic item, bread, is made with flour that’s been irradiated. And so are many food items we regard as “natural”.

    The horse part of the UK horse meat scandal should be the least of their worries. It’s all the other stuff in their hamburgers that we’ve mentioned on these comments that should freak them out.

  21. dweller says:

    @ Andrew:

    “I saw my grandfather die of alzheimers.”

    Most persons who get Alzheimers, die WITH it

    — but not ‘OF’ it.

    That is, the actual cause of death is usually something else — which is, of course, rendered harder to deal with by the practical & neurological effects of the Alzheimers itself (e.g., forgetting to take medications, keep appointments w/ caregivers, etc, etc).

    Do you know for sure, Andrew, which it was, in your grandfather’s case? — death caused by Alzheimers, or death accompanied BY it?

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