Discovered test that detects Alzheimer’s 10 years before clinical diagnosis
Dimitrios Kapogiannis is an internationally renowned neuroscientist. He is a Clinical Investigator at the Laboratory of Neurosciences of the National Institute on Aging/NIH. He is also an adjunct Assistant Professor of Neurology at Johns Hopkins University. He is Board-certified in Neurology and subspecialty-certified in Behavioral Neurology and Neuropsychiatry.
Dr. Kapogiannis is interested in the connections between diabetes, brain metabolism and Alzheimer’s disease and in interventions aiming to improve brain metabolism as potential treatments of the disease. He is the Principal Investigator of a clinical trial of exenatide in Alzheimer’s disease and several other research studies in brain aging and Alzheimer’s disease.
He is the lead author of the study, that found a new blood test for Alzheimer’s which appears to detect the disease as many as 10 years before clinical diagnosis is possible, far sooner than other tests in development.
The test was presented publicly for the first time on November 16, 2014 at the Society for Neuroscience conference in Washington and could soon be used to identify and treat patients with Alzheimer’s earlier in their disease progression. Those people could participate in clinical trials to help find new treatments. Already, the test distinguishes between patients and healthy elderly with 100 percent accuracy.
The researchers gathered blood samples from 70 individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, 20 cognitively normal elderly with diabetes, and 84 healthy adults. Of the participants, 22 of the Alzheimer’s patients provided samples taken one to 10 years before diagnosis. From the samples, the researchers isolated exosomes, little lipid sacs that bud off cell membranes and carry signals to other cells and tissues. From the resulting pool of exosomes, they identified just those originating in the brain, which contain IRS-1, and measured the levels of the protein.
They found that patients with Alzheimer’s had higher amounts of the inactive form of the protein and lower amounts of the active form than healthy individuals. The diabetics had intermediate levels. These levels were so consistent that the team could predict whether a blood sample came from an Alzheimer’s patient, healthy individual, or a diabetic — with no errors. This was true even for samples from Alzheimer’s patients taken 10 years before they were diagnosed.
“We will need replication and validation, but I’m very optimistic this work will hold” said Dimitrios.
At the National Institute on Aging, Kapogiannis and his team identified a single protein in the brain involved in insulin signaling, called IRS-1, that appears to be defective in Alzheimer’s patients.
Dr. Kapogiannis comes from Messenia, Greece, but was raised in Piraeus. He acquired his Medical Degree at the University of Athens, Greece. He completed his Neurology residency training at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School and his subspecialty training at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke/NIH.