The University of California, Los Angeles, said this week that it has granted an exclusive, worldwide license to MP Biomedicals to commercialize an assay method that could serve as the basis for a diagnostic blood test for Alzheimer's disease.
The method, developed by a team led by UCLA researcher Milan Fiala, measures the amount of amyloid beta that is being absorbed by immune cells in the blood.
Amyloid beta forms the plaques that cause Alzheimer's disease, and if the immune system isn't adequately clearing the protein it could indicate a risk for disease development, UCLA said.
Fiala and colleagues recently published a study, which received undisclosed financial support from MP Biomedicals, on the process in the May issue of the Journal of Neuroimmunology.
In the study, researchers took blood samples and isolated monocytes, and incubated them with fluorescently labeled amyloid beta. Using flow cytometry, they then measured the amount of amyloid beta ingested by the cells.
The 18 Alzheimer's disease patients in the study showed the least uptake of the protein; whole the healthy control group of 14 individuals demonstrated the highest uptake. The method was able to distinguish with adequate sensitivity and specificity the Alzheimer's disease patients from the healthy subjects, UCLA said.
"Early diagnosis is the cornerstone of preventive approaches to Alzheimer's disease," Fiala said in a statement. "We are pleased that the process we've identified using immune cells to help predict Alzheimer's risk will be further developed by MP Biomedicals."
Financial terms of the licensing agreement were not provided. UCLA disclosed that Fiala is a consultant for the company.
MP Biomedicals, headquartered in Irvine, Calif., manufactures and sells more than 55,000 products in the life science, fine chemical, and diagnostics fields.