Tau-Based Biomarker Tracks Alzheimer’s Progression; Novel Marker Found In Cerebrospinal Fluid Also Could Speed Development of Alzheimer’s Drugs

Kanta Horie, PhD, works with a mass spectrometer that he uses to measure protein levels in cerebrospinal fluid samples.

Two pathologies drive the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Early on, amyloid beta plaques lead the way, but around the time cognitive symptoms arise, tau tangles take over as the driving force and cognition steadily declines. Tracking the course of the disease in individual patients has been challenging because there’s been no easy way to measure tau tangles in the brain. But now, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Lund University in Lund, Sweden, have identified a form of tau that could serve as a marker to track Alzheimer’s progression. The marker also could be used by Alzheimer’s drug developers to assess whether investigational tau-based drugs--the next frontier in Alzheimer’s drug development--are effective against the disease. Such drugs theoretically would benefit people in later stages of the disease, when tau tangles play a crucial role.

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