DrugBaron woke up this morning to the latest chapter in the “blood test for Alzheimer’s Disease” soap opera, with this article from the BBC trumpeting the latest study to be published as a “major step forward”.
The study behind the headlines was published (unusually for a “major breakthrough”) in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia, and described a study based on the measurement of 26 candidate protein biomarkers in blood samples from 1,148 individuals, 476 with Alzheimer’s Disease, 220 with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and 452 controls of similar age but no dementia.
The authors of the study, and their industrial collaborators at Proteome Sciences plc, were not backward at promoting this work as a significant: Dr Ian Pike, Chief Operating Officer at Proteome Science declared “Having a protein test is really a major step forwards. [It] will take several years and need many more patients before we can be certain these tests are suitable for routine clinical use, that process can start fairly quickly now.”
Even independent voices were quick to praise the new research: Eric Karran, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, described the study as a “technical tour de force”. Really?
This is, after all, not the first 2014 paper to make such a claim: in March a paper in Nature Medicine made almost identical claims, and BBC article reporting that study even used many of the same stock images! Even the headline claims of the two studies were similar (90% accuracy for the Nature Medicine paper verus 87% accuracy for the new study). And both used similar methodology: multivariate signatures, although the earlier study was focused on metabolic biomarkers and the new study on proteins.
So did the new study justify the hype any more than the previous attempts to solve this important problem? DrugBaron reviewed the primary publication with interest.
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