Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute (BRNI) and Inverness Medical Innovations, Inc. (Inverness, NYSE:IMA) of Waltham, Massachusetts, a global leader in rapid diagnostics and health management, are working together to further develop and commercialize a diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s disease first discovered by scientists at BRNI.
The BRNI test, once fully commercialized, could dramatically change the time and way that the disease is treated. The agreement also marks the first major global private sector deal involving BRNI technology and science. Under the terms of the arrangement, Inverness will fund the development efforts to be conducted by BRNI over an initial three year period. Inverness has also obtained an option which, if exercised, will provide Inverness with certain rights to the technology developed for use in the diagnosis, prognosis and monitoring of Alzheimer’s disease.
BRNI first discovered the biomarker test’s potential in 2006. By testing for signs of AD-related inflammation in skin cells called fibroblasts, the BRNI team located a biomarker for the disease that can be tested without the invasive procedures previously required, such as a lumbar tap. The key molecular targets that the BRNI biomarker determines reflect PKC signaling which appears to be compromised very early on during AD and probably well before the onset of clinical symptoms. These pathways could also be a focus for drug therapy.
A recent study has been conducted with more than 300 patients in 15 hospitals, and autopsy-confirmations have been obtained from 42 patients. Based on autopsy validation, the BRNI biomarker had a 98 percent level of accuracy in detecting AD. This accuracy was also achieved for the early diagnosis of AD (within the first four years of memory loss symptoms). Clinical diagnosis, as confirmed by autopsy, is considerably less accurate in diagnosing AD at such early stages. The BRNI biomarker showed high accuracy when tested with human skin cells from a tissue bank, as well as for samples obtained from the patients with autopsy-confirmed diagnoses.