NeuroQuest – a Charleston-based biotech company developing the first blood-based test for early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease – announced it has entered into a service agreement with the University of California, San Diego for collection and processing of blood samples for their U.S. clinical validation trials.
Recent pilot testing of NeuroQuest’s biomarker technology in Australia surpassed current standards of specificity and sensitivity set by the U.S. Alzheimer’s Association.
Contracting with a major research hub for their U.S. clinical trials is a significant step forward in proving their technology and for Alzheimer’s research if it mimics their Australian pilot study.
NeuroQuest has discovered blood-based immune biomarkers for producing early and accurate diagnostic tools for Alzheimer’s and ALS diseases. Its technology is based on the specific response of the immune system to a neurological injury and can be detected in FACS analysis of whole blood. The company believes that this platform will not only provide an accurate and inexpensive diagnostic tool for demented patients with Alzheimer’s diseases but also open new and exciting opportunities for early diagnosis and the development of specific immunotherapies.
“Based on our pilot test results, we are cautiously optimistic about our upcoming U.S. clinical trials,” said Dan Touitou, CEO of NeuroQuest. “The larger scope of the Anti-Amyloid in Asymptomatic AD (A4) study will greatly help us determine the validity of our science.”
Worldwide, nearly 44 million people have Alzheimer’s or a related dementia. In the U.S., 5.3 million people are living with Alzheimer’s. To date, no objective, accurate, cost-effective and practical tool for early diagnosing Alzheimer’s exists.
The A4 study, funded by the National Institute on Aging, Eli Lilly and Company, and several philanthropic organizations, is a national clinical trial for older individuals who may be at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
To assist with their U.S. clinical trials, NeuroQuest has contracted with Robert Rissman, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Neurosciences and Biomarker Core Director for the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS) at University of California, San Diego. Rissman will oversee the processing and testing of blood samples from 700 asymptomatic study participants, primarily from screening visits of the A4 study.
To qualify for the A4 study, subjects who are free of memory impairments must have evidence of beta amyloid accumulation based on PET scans. Beta amyloid accumulation, or amyloid brain plaque, is considered to be one of the root causes of AD.
Validation studies for NeuroQuest’s diagnostic blood test will continue in Australia and the U.S. through 2017.
The blood test is based on the principles of protective autoimmunity and nearly 20 years of award- winning research led by Professor Michal Schwartz, Chair and vice president of the international society of Neuroscience, the Weizmann Institute in Israel.
Formerly based in Israel, NeuroQuest was welcomed to Charleston by the SCRA and SCRA Technology Ventures’ SC Launch program in 2014 and established its U.S. subsidiary and clinical development center at the Roper St. Francis’ Clinical Biotechnology Research Institute. It became the 14th company landing party to enter the state through an SCRA investment and the first landing party as a direct result of the S.C.-Israel Economic Development Mission.