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2013 Grants - Qiu
Setting Up a Challenge Diagnostic Test for Alzheimer's Disease
Wendy Wei Qiao Qiu, M.D., Ph.D.
Boston University Medical Campus
2013 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant
One of the major challenges of Alzheimer's research is to develop a simple and reliable diagnostic test for the disease in its early stages. A common strategy is to identify a molecule in the blood that is increased in people who have the disease. Such a test for Alzheimer's disease is not yet available. Another strategy, which has not been explored much, is to measure how the body responds to a challenge, such as an injected drug.
Wendy Wei Qiao Qiu, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues are attempting to develop such a challenge test for Alzheimer's disease. They have found evidence that a naturally occurring molecule, known as amylin, enters the brain and inhibits the breakdown of beta-amyloid. Beta-amyloid is a protein fragment implicated in the Alzheimer's disease process. Dr. Qiu's team has found evidence that injection of amylin into the bloodstream of mice leads to an increase in the levels of beta-amyloid in the blood, but this only occurs in mice that have been genetically altered to have an Alzheimer's-like condition. The researchers have proposed, therefore, that blood levels of beta-amyloid after an injection of amyloid may be a way to diagnose Alzheimer's disease.
Dr. Qiu and colleagues have proposed to test this idea in human volunteers known to have Alzheimer's disease as well as in healthy volunteers. They plan to inject a drug known as pramlintide into the blood stream and then determine if it leads to an increase in beta-amyloid levels in people who have Alzheimer's disease but not in healthy individuals. Pramlintide is a synthetic version of amylin and is already approved for use in humans. These studies could lay the groundwork for a possible blood test for Alzheimer's disease.