Identifying biomarkers may be an improved method of classifying Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. As outlined in a recent article covered by Parkinson’s News Today, both diseases are diagnosed for the most part based on patients’ symptoms.
Although the symptoms may be similar, the underlying cellular and molecular causes of the illness may be different. This may explain why the same treatments may not have the same effect on different patients. Therefore it will be useful to define the mechanisms underlying each patient’s disease.
Researchers believe that if tests can identify these biomarkers (measurable substances), treatments would be more aligned with precision medicine. It would benefit patients in accordance with the characteristics of their disease.
The Aetionomy Project
Many different biomarkers are being considered to trace neurodegeneration and neuroinflammation.
The Aetionomy Project is a European partnership that analyzed 227 samples of cerebrospinal fluid from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s patients. This fluid surrounds the spinal cord and the brain.
The researchers focused on twenty-one immunity markers. Their goal was to find relationships between these markers and characteristics such as the sex and age of the patients. They also sought to identify a link between disease progression and tau or other neurodegeneration markers.
Tau tangles have been considered hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. Tau is a protein found within nerve cells
The markers that were tracked included tracers of inflammatory reactions that occur in the spinal cord and brain comprising the central nervous system.
In addition, the project included patients who did not have dementia as well as those diagnosed with minimal cognitive impairment as a comparison.
To confirm their results, the researchers for the Aetionomy project searched for similarities among 399 samples from a previously published independent study.
Initial results of the current study showed that immunity markers were primarily associated with levels of tau isoforms and amyloid levels together with other characteristics such as the gender and age of the patients.
Plasma amyloid-β levels have been identified as Alzheimer’s biomarkers.
There seems to be universal agreement that the abnormal clumps of tau and amyloid proteins found in the brain are at the root both diseases.
Researchers have suggested that neurodegenerative illnesses could be recognized according to their molecular features. They agree that it would be beneficial if they could identify the disease prior to symptoms that appear later.
In the Aetionomy project digital technology such as AI was used to stimulate brains using ‘wiring’ to study the processes relating to Alzheimer’s. This technology enables the researchers to analyze the brain even before the brain can be measured directly using human samples.
At this juncture it is believed that there are several causes of Alzheimer’s disease. The study’s lead researcher commented that the impact of their findings may be evident ten years from now.
Researchers agree that patients should be characterized by their symptoms. However, the studies confirm that in addition they should be characterized by molecular markers in order to recognize complex neurodegenerative disorders.