Biomarkers of ALS
Biomarkers are substances – including blood, urine, or cerebrospinal fluid – that provide a window into the state of a disease. These markers can help doctors diagnose a condition early, monitor its progress, and evaluate treatment effectiveness. Biomarkers are particularly critical in this disease, because amyotrophic lateral sclerosis symptoms can mimic those of other neurological conditions and delay the diagnosis.
Several biomarkers are under investigation, including inflammation, which holds promise for both diagnosing and treating ALS. In 2016, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital used positron emission tomography scans to measure inflammation in the brain of an ALS patient for the first time. “Inflammation is an important target for ALS drug development, and we believe imaging inflammation may allow us to design and conduct efficient ALS clinical trials and will accelerate the pace of ALS drug discovery,” said neurologist Nazem Atazzi, MD, one of the study’s authors.
March 16, 2020
Christopher Nystuen, MD, MBA