Plasma and cerebrospinal fluid-based protein biomarkers for motor neuron disease

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Motor neuron diseases (MNDs) and, in particular, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), are a heterogeneous group of neurologic disorders characterized by the progressive loss of motor function. In ALS, a selective and relentless degeneration of both upper and lower motor neurons occurs, culminating in mortality typically within 5 years of symptom onset. However, survival rates vary among individual patients and can be from a few months to >10 years from diagnosis. Inadequacies in disease detection and treatment, along with a lack of diagnostic and prognostic tools, have prompted many to turn to proteomics-based biomarker discovery efforts. Proteomics refers to the study of the proteins expressed by a genome at a particular time, and the proteome can respond to and reflect the status of an organism, including health and disease states. Although an emerging field, proteomic applications promise to uncover biomarkers critical for differentiating patients with ALS and other MNDs from healthy individuals and from patients affected by other diseases. Ideally, these studies will also provide mechanistic information to facilitate identification of new drug targets for subsequent therapeutic development. In addition to proper experimental design, standard operating procedures for sample acquisition, preprocessing, and storage must be developed. Biological samples typically analyzed in proteomic studies of neurologic diseases include both plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Recent studies have identified individual proteins and/or protein panels from blood plasma and CSF that represent putative biomarkers for ALS, although many of these proteins are not unique to this disease. Continued investigations are required to validate these initial findings and to further pursue the role of these proteins as diagnostic biomarkers or surrogate markers of disease progression. Protein biomarkers specific to ALS will additionally function to evaluate drug efficacy in clinical trials and to identify novel targets for drug design. It is hoped that proteomic technologies will soon integrate the basic biology of ALS with mechanistic disease information to achieve success in the clinical setting. © 2006 Adis Data Information BV. All rights reserved.

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Molecular Diagnosis and Therapy







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