UMH cooperation project advances development of possible biomarkers for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease

The research team of Rocío Pérez, Javier Sáez and Inmaculada Cuchillo.

“Characterization of Extracellular Vesicles in Blood for the Refinement of Early Biomarkers and the Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease,” a cooperation project from the Miguel Hernández University of Elche (UMH), strives to examine extracellular vesicles from blood samples from the largest and most homogenous group of familial Alzheimer’s disease known, from the Antioquia region in Colombia, and to identify possible biomarkers for the diagnosis and progression of this disease.

Javier Sáez Valero, a UMH Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and researcher from the Institute of Neurosciences, is coordinating this project. Other project participants include Inmaculada Cuchillo Ibáñez, a researcher from the Institute of Neurosciences and CIBERNED (The Network Center for Biomedical Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases); and Rocío Pérez González, a specialist in extracellular vesicles, under contract by ISABIAL (Alicante Institute for Biomedical and Health Research). Also collaborating in the project are Gloria Patricia Cardona Gómez and Rafael Andrés Posada Duque, both from the University of Antioquia.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent type of dementia in aging populations, it is still an incurable pathology, and it affects the quality of life in patients and their families. The clinical manifestations that precede the stage of dementia are not useful for determining rapid therapeutic intervention, so this is why having biomarkers for better diagnosis and biological monitoring are necessary.

The project’s research team has begun isolating extracellular vesicles with two distinct techniques and has begun characterizing their protein content. Extracellular vesicles are characterized as they contain proteins and microRNA from the cells of origin, and thus permit proteins that form part of brain cells in living patients to be analyzed in blood. This way, if accessible protocols can be developed for isolating blood samples from vesicles and enriching those of a brain origin, it would be possible to develop biomarkers of diagnostic utility and of value in monitoring both the evolution of the disease as well as the possible effectiveness of therapies. This represents an advance in understanding Alzheimer’s and other brain pathologies, and makes clinical intervention more effective.

This project was selected in the call for international research projects from a 2020 agreement to fulfill the Sustainable Development Goals from the United Nations 2030 Agenda, which was announced by the UMH and funded by the Generalitat Valenciana. The development of this project contributes to fulfillment of SDG 3, “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.”