Blood test promises quick ALS diagnosis

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By Cara Murez HealthDay reporter
Health Day Reporter

WEDNESDAY, September 7, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Patients suspected of having amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) will soon be able to receive a diagnosis much more quickly, without wasting the precious time that many still have, new research suggests.

In 2020, a blood test for ALS based on microRNA (short segments of genetic material) was developed by scientists at Brain Chemistry Labs, but it required precise protocols for shipping and storing blood samples kept at -80°C. That meant many doctors and neurologists couldn’t use the test.

Now researchers from the company, the Dartmouth Department of Neurology and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that they were able to replicate the original test using blood samples that were not collected and stored under such strict requirements.

To do this, they compared blinded blood samples from 50 ALS patients from the US National ALS Biorepository with 50 healthy “control” participants. The researchers found that in this new test, the genetic fingerprint of five microRNA sequences accurately differentiated between people with ALS and healthy individuals.

“We were surprised that the microRNA assay worked for samples collected by a variety of researchers under different conditions,” said first author Dr. Sandra Banack.

Doctors are now verifying the new blood test, and Brain Chemistry Labs in Wyoming has applied for a patent on the test, according to a company press release.

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is an incurable neurological disease. Currently, the time lag between the onset of symptoms and diagnosis is more than a year. Misdiagnosis can occur approximately 13% to 68% of the time. Unfortunately, most ALS patients die two to five years after diagnosis.

The results were published online on August 29 in Journal of Neurological Sciences .

More information

The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more on ALS.

SOURCE: Brain Chemistry Labs, press release, August 31, 2022



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