Assay Able to Detect Neuron Damage in Blood May Serve as Early MS Diagnostic Tool

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by Patricia Silva, PhD |

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Quanterix and UmanDiagnostics are working to advance an assay capable of detecting neuron damage in a blood sample — a tool that could aid in the early diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) and other neurodegenerative conditions.

The collaboration brings Quanterix’ Simoa technology together with Uman’s antibodies against neurofilament light (Nf-L) — a marker of nerve cell degeneration. In early disease stages, the factor is found in extremely low concentrations in the blood, a reason it hasn’t been used until now. The assay is ultrasensitive, Quanterix reported, and able to get around that problem.

Simoa is a digital immunoassay that can quantify a range of different molecules related to neurodegeneration. Together with Uman’s antibodies, the Simoa Nf-L assay is reported to be sufficiently sensitive to detect Nf-L, a neuronal breakdown product, in the serum, plasma, and cerebrospinal fluid.

The assay can be applied in both the clinical and the research setting, as the antibodies can also detect mouse, bovine and macaque versions of Nf-L.

“We are extremely pleased to be working closely with Quanterix to provide Uman’s highly specific Nf-L antibodies for use in the Simoa assay format. This enables the world’s most specific and sensitive assay for Nf-L,” Dr. Niklas Norgren, CEO of UmanDiagnostics, said in a press release.

“The Simoa Nf-L assay is capable of detecting this highly informative neuronal damage biomarker directly in blood, enabling simplified assessment of a variety of neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis,” Norgren added, “and potentially a critical way to access concussion-related neurological issues.”

Quanterix also announced that researchers  from the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Disease recently presented data on Quanterix’ Simoa technology at the recent Society for Neuroscience 2016 Annual Meeting in San Diego.

“This year’s Neuroscience event is a great opportunity for researchers to showcase groundbreaking discoveries,” said Kevin Hrusovsky, CEO and executive chairman of Quanterix. “Our collaboration with UmanDiagnostics will provide critical, commercial availability of our Simoa-based assay, which can detect and quantify Nf-L in blood. We look forward to advancing research with this sensitive assay and uncovering groundbreaking discoveries in neurology disease.”

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