Researchers from the National University of Singapore have developed an inexpensive blood test, an Amplified Plasmonic EXosome system (APEX), which detects aggregated amyloid beta, an early-stage molecular marker of Alzheimer’s disease. The chip technology is just as good as brain PET imaging and costs under 1% of the cost of the latter. It can test 60 samples simultaneously with results ready within the hour.
Zhang Yan, a doctoral student from NUS iHealthtech and NUS Department of Biomedical Engineering, and co-first author of the study, said: “Within each APEX sensor, there are millions of nanoholes to enable unique interactions with the aggregated Aβ. The APEX sensor recognises the abnormal Aβ aggregates directly from a very small amount of blood, induces and amplifies a colour change in the associated light signal.”
“Researchers from the National University of Singapore have developed an inexpensive blood test which detects aggregated amyloid beta.“
Assistant Professor Shao Huilin from the NUS Institute for Health Innovation & Technology, and project lead, said: “There is currently no good blood-based method to effectively screen and monitor AD. New tests that are under investigation have either poor accuracy or low sensitivity. The APEX technology addresses both of these limitations and is therefore a very powerful and objective companion diagnostic system to complement existing clinical and neuropsychological tests for early detection and better management of AD. As blood tests are relatively easy to administer, APEX can be also used to monitor a patient’s response to treatment. Furthermore, this technology can be easily scaled up for large cohort clinical validations and drug evaluation. The results of the APEX tests correlate extremely well with PET imaging results. The clinical study shows that the APEX system can accurately identify patients with AD and those with MCI; it also differentiates them from healthy individuals and patients suffering from other neurodegenerative diseases. In fact, this is the only blood test that shows such comparable results with PET imaging, the current gold standard for AD diagnosis.”