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VTT, GE Healthcare to Partner on Alzheimer’s Biomarkers

Illustration of brain (NIDA)

(National Institute of Drug Abuse)

VTT Research Centre in Espoo, Finland and GE Healthcare, a division of General Electric Company, will collaborate on research involving biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease. The aim of the research is to validate one biomarker already discovered by VTT, as well as discover other early indicators of the disease.

World Health Organization estimates some 18 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s disease, with that number expected to nearly double to 34 million by 2025. WHO says the rate of occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease increases exponentially with age, which means that it occurs very rarely among those 40-50 years old, increases between 60 and 65 years, and is very common over 80 years.

Scientists at VTT and University of Eastern Finland recently discovered a serum biochemical signature, which the researchers say predicts progression to Alzheimer’s disease months and perhaps years before the first symptoms of the disease occur. The VTT/GE Healthcare project will validate this biomarker in a large group of patients, as well as to discover other  biomarker candidates.

In 2010, GE Healthcare and Janssen Pharmaceutica N.V., a division of Johnson & Johnson, began an initiative to develop diagnostic biosignatures for pre-symptomatic identification of Alzheimer’s disease. VTT plans to use serum metabolite profiling to validate their recently discovered biochemical signature, as part of this program. VTT says the discovery of early metabolic pathways associated with progression to Alzheimer’s disease may also help in identifying new therapies.

Research professor Matej Orešic says the collaboration will make it possible for VTT to further develop its biomarker towards a clinical assay applicable in a health care setting. “VTT has over the past years built unique metabolomics and systems biology platforms,” says Orešic, “and acquired vast amount of knowledge on metabolic profiles and pathways in human health and disease, which allow us to identify disease-specific biochemical signatures and pathways.”

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