Top Sector Life Sciences & Health (LSH) entails a broad scope of disciplines, from pharmaceuticals to medical technology and from healthcare infrastructure to vaccination. To realise its mission – vital citizens in a healthy economy - the Top Sector builds on the strengths of the Dutch LSH sector to address the biggest societal challenges in prevention, cure and care. By funding multidisciplinary public-private partnerships (PPPs) the Top Sector aims to facilitate innovation. Here we give an overview of  a number of funded R&D projects by Top Sector LSH. The page is updated continuously.

Measuring a toxic Alzheimer protein with new techniques

Amyloid beta oligomers in early Alzheimer’s Disease (ABOARD); developing a new diagnostic tool for the most toxic Amyloid beta species using an advanced technological approach

VUmc Neurochemistry lab and Crossbeta Biosciences have new techniques available to overcome previously encountered hurdles in development of a diagnostic tests for the earliest stage of Alzheimer’s disease. Within this project, the Neurochemistry lab and Crossbeta will combine ingredients and expertise with the aim to deliver a highly specific and highly sensitive test, targeting the earliest Alzheimer’s disease phase.

Alzheimer’s disease brain damage starts already 20 years before symptom onset. When symptoms arise, brain damage is already very extensive and irreversible. As the brain has very limited capacity for repair, we have to intervene in the disease process as early as possible. To do so, we first have to be able to diagnose patients at this earliest stage. A protein that is highly promising to use for diagnostics, is amyloid beta oligomers. The amyloid beta oligomers are amyloid beta proteins sticking together in a specific constellation. This specific form is thought to play a crucial role in cognitive deterioration in Alzheimer’s Disease.

Development of tools to measure amyloid beta oligomers was proven difficult, as these proteins are only present in very low concentrations. Also, the test should only capture this specific toxic form, and no other forms. The Neurochemistry lab has access to an advanced technical platform and expertise to measure proteins in extremely low concentrations too. Crossbeta has developed reagents that are able to specifically capture amyloid oligomers.

When the project has finished, we can tell whether measurement of amyloid beta oligomers can be used to diagnose patients in a very early stage and whether we can use the test to predict and/or monitor progression of Alzheimer’s Disease. The project may lead to a breakthrough in early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, which is necessary for development of treatments to stop this devastating disease.