Searching for better diagnostic tools
Researchers have been searching for a more precise way to get an accurate amyotrophic lateral sclerosis diagnosis, without having to go through the current process of elimination. One possible diagnostic technique uses biomarkers — substances in the brain and spinal fluid — to help doctors identify the disease more quickly and efficiently.
Recently, Van Damme and his research team discovered that people with ALS have higher levels of neurofilaments — threadlike protein strands that provide support to neurons — in the fluid surrounding their brain and spinal cord (cerebrospinal fluid). Measuring neurofilaments in cerebrospinal fluid might help confirm a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
“The test meets all the requirements for use as a reliable diagnostic test,” Van Damme says. Further research is needed to determine whether neurofilaments or other biomarker tests will reduce the time it takes for doctors to make an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis diagnosis.
March 16, 2020
Christopher Nystuen, MD, MBA