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Breakthrough in motor neurone disease detection

By April 2, 2024No Comments

Scientists are touting a significant advancement in the fight against motor neurone disease (MND) with the development of a groundbreaking test capable of identifying indicators of the condition even before symptoms appear.

Known as the TDP-43 aptamer, this innovative tool has the ability to detect damaged cell proteins present in brain tissue samples. These proteins serve as biomarkers for MND, signaling its presence before cellular dysfunction and symptom onset.

Researchers emphasise that detecting MND at its earliest stages represents a pivotal advancement, offering the promise of more effective treatments. Dr. Holly Spence, affiliated with the University of Aberdeen, underscored the implications of these findings for early diagnostics and intervention, potentially enabling diagnosis prior to the emergence of symptoms when therapeutic interventions might be most beneficial.

MND, affecting approximately 5,000 individuals in the UK, currently lacks a cure, though available treatments can mitigate its impact on daily life. The disease is characterised by the accumulation of specific proteins in the brain, leading to the gradual deterioration of cells and resulting in symptoms such as impaired movement, cognition, and breathing, which become worse over time.

The newly-created ‘aptamer laboratory test’ functions by identifying abnormal protein aggregates in brain tissue biopsies obtained from patients. Researchers assert that their test exhibits superior sensitivity and earlier detection capabilities compared to current methods, offering hope for improved outcomes in the battle against MND.

Ben Kemp