August 6, 2008 -- A new study, published in Biomarkers in Medicine, demonstrates proof-of-concept for use of minimally-invasive technology being developed by Molecular Biometrics, LLC (Chester, NJ), to diagnose Parkinson's disease (PD). In the study, researchers used near infrared (NIR) and Raman spectroscopy to develop a metabolic profile (or chemical signatures) of biological markers for PD. There is currently no definitive laboratory diagnostic for Parkinson's disease.
The company also announced receipt of an award from The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research supporting further development of its technology platform to validate its PD diagnostic methodology.
"The lack of an objective biomarker to aid diagnosis and therapeutics development is one of the single greatest challenges facing the Parkinson's research field," said Katie Hood, CEO of The Michael J. Fox Foundation. "We are enthusiastic about helping to keep Molecular Biometrics' novel metabolomic diagnostic technology moving forward toward validation and clinical testing."
Researchers at Molecular Biometrics, Lady Davis Institute (LDI), Sir Mortimer B. Davis - Jewish General Hospital and McGill University have shown that, using biospectroscopy methods to create a specific biomarker profile, they can distinguish idiopathic Parkinson's disease from normal aging and other neurodegenerative conditions. Diagnosis of PD is currently based solely on a patient's medical history and neurological examination, making Parkinson's difficult to diagnose, particularly during early stages of the disease.
"We created a biomarker profile, using biospectroscopy techniques, to delineate a chemical signature in blood that identifies patients with Parkinson's disease," said Hyman M. Schipper, MD, PhD, FRCPC, lead author of the study and member of the Faculty of Medicine, Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, and Department of Medicine, McGill University, and member of the Attending Staff in Neurology at Sir Mortimer B. Davis - Jewish General Hospital, in Montreal, Canada. "This proof-of-concept gives us great hope that biospectroscopy will offer a new approach to the early diagnosis of Parkinson's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders." Dr Schipper is a noted expert in brain aging and neurodegeneration, and a Founding Scientist and Medical Director (Neurosciences) at Molecular Biometrics.
In the study, 52 patients, 20 with mild or moderate stages of Parkinson's disease and 32 age-matched control subjects were recruited at the Jewish General Hospital. Whole blood samples were analyzed using near- infrared (NIR) spectroscopy and Raman spectroscopy (RS) methods which have previously been used to create metabolomic profiles (chemical signatures) of human biofluids, including serum and whole blood.
Both NIR and RS methods were applied to measure the degree of oxidative stress (OS) present in each sample. OS has been considered to be a potential biomarker for Parkinson's disease. However, to date, chemical markers have not proven sufficiently robust to serve as an accurate or reliable biomarker of the disease. OS is caused by a chemical imbalance that can damage critical components of a cell, including proteins, lipids and DNA. OS is known to be involved in many diseases, including PD and Alzheimer's disease. The data from this study showed that the two independent biospectroscopy measurement techniques yielded similar and consistent results. In differentiating Parkinson's disease patients from the control group, RS achieved a sensitivity of 74% and specificity of 72%, with eight false positives and four false negatives. NIR achieved a sensitivity of 74% and specificity of 76%, with four false positives and five false negatives.
The study, titled, "Spectroscopy of human plasma for diagnosis of idiopathic Parkinson disease," was published in the peer-reviewed journal Biomarkers in Medicine (June 2008, Vol. 2, No. 3, Pages 229-238).
Molecular Biometrics was one of six industry research teams to receive a total of $2.7 million in funding granted under The Michael J. Fox Foundation's Therapeutics Development Initiative (TDI) program. TDI is the cornerstone of the Foundation's venture philanthropy efforts to help push promising candidate therapeutics forward in industry pipelines by allowing the Foundation to share the risk of product development.