There are three serious obstacles to the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease: clinical diagnosis is not very accurate, it is often too late and it doesn’t help to find a cure. Biomarker assays hold a promise to overcome all three challenges.
“I am convinced that biomarkers will play an important role in the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease within the next ten years”, said Koen Dewaele. Four years ago he founded with three other pioneers ADx Neurosciences, an R&D company committed to improving the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia by identifying and developing novel biomarkers. “Clinical trials show that up to 30 per cent of all patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is tested false-positive. There are two major features of Alzheimer’s disease: amyloid and tau. Testing these markers helps to detect the disease much earlier. Besides, new markers are needed for determining the course of the degeneration process.” Read more »
One in four patients that receive a prostate biopsy are currently tested false-negative. For the biopsies procedure the urologists shoots ten to twelve needles into the prostate. Effectively, less than 1% of the prostate is being sampled. The accuracy of this test is approximately 65 percent, which means that many (cancer-free) patients have to undergo unnecessary repeat biopsies.”
Dr. Jan Groen is president and CEO of MDxHealth, a molecular diagnostics company that develops and commercializes advanced epigenetic tests for cancer assessment and the personalized treatment of patients. Recently the company introduced ConfirmMDx for Prostate Cancer, an epigenetic assay to help distinguish patients who have a true-negative biopsy from those who may have occult cancer. The test helps urologists rule out prostate cancer-free men from undergoing unnecessary repeat biopsies and, helps rule-in high-risk patients who may require repeat biopsies and potential treatment. Read more »
Didier Falconnet is the director of research at MyCartis. Over the past years, the R&D life science and engineering department teams at MyCartis have developed a novel multiplexing technology – the Evalution™ platform. Recently Didier Falconnet and his team published a scientific paper in the journal Analytical Chemistry, that is the first peer-reviewed scientific and technical publication of this technology: Rapid, Sensitive and Real-Time Multiplexing Platform for the Analysis of Protein and Nucleic-Acid Biomarkers.
“The intention of MyCartis was to develop a novel multiplexing system that would alleviate the limitations of the existing ones while enabling new possibilities”, Didier Falconnet explains. “Multiplexing has been around for some years now and has become an obvious choice for many researchers as it allows quantifying multiple molecules at once. So instead of needing 50 individual assays to be able to measure 50 different molecules, researchers can measure them all at once. This reduces time, cost and (precious) samples. We also recognize that complex diseases are not related to one single molecule (or biomarker), but rather to a set of them. That is why there is a growing need to analyse more molecules at the same time. Current multiplexing technologies suffer from their inherent limitations such as lack of flexibility, reproducibility, speed or ease of use.”
That is why Didier Falconnet and his colleagues developed Evalution™, the ‘next generation multiplexing technology’ with a focus on faster, better and simpler.
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Thomas Joos is Deputy Managing Director of The Natural and Medical Sciences Institute (NMI) at the University of Tübingen (Germany), He strongly believes that qualification is the key success factor of biomarker discovery and its application in drug development. “If you search for biomarker discoveries in PubMed, you will find nearly 10,000 publications. A lot of biomarkers are being discovered. However, the main question is: how many of these assays are really going to make their way into practice and improve the safety of patients? In order to improve the qualification of biomarkers, we need to look at the quality of research results.”
In order to perform the necessary research, funding is required. An important way to tackle this is to form public-private partnerships between industrial organisations and academics. “A good example of this is SAFE-T (Safer and Faster Evidence-based Translation)”, said Thomas Joos. This consortium is funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), a large-scale public-private partnership between the European Union and the pharmaceutical industry association EFPIA. Read more »
The detection of biomarkers can be a challenging task when a researcher is faced with a very low concentration of molecules in blood or tissue. The MeBioS-Biosensor group of the KU University in Leuven (Belgium) is working on the development of innovative detection concepts that can help to meet these challenges.
Professor Jeroen Lammertyn is head of the MeBioS-Biosensor group. He and his team conduct research in the field of bio-nanotechnology – the technology of biological systems at the nanometre scale. More specifically the group focuses on the development of novel bio-molecular detection concepts and miniaturized analysis systems, in the domains of bio-assay development, optical sensors and lab-on-chip technology. The applications span a broad range of sectors including medical and food diagnostics.
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