A number of breakout sessions today focused on biomarkers and personalized medicine. A very compelling session was on Biomarkers and Diagnostics in Alzheimer’s. It my impression that one of the major hurdles in the adoption of biomarker technology is the conception that its simply “diagnostics.” The current system is designed to reimburse based on the type of test (such as $XX for PCR tests), this is where the system fails currently because it totally neglects the varied R&D costs of developing personalized biomarkers which are much more than other more direct tests.
On a positive note a company called Neuroptix presented a very exciting non-invasive test for Alzheimer’s disease. At present beyond doctor’s neurological reports there are no comprehensive tests for the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s as well as no way for early detection of this debilitating disease. The test is designed to detect the aggregation of A-Beta (the protein that aggregates and causes damaging filaments in the brain) in the lens of the eye based on confocal lasers. The preliminary data of this test looks promising and they report that in mice they can even detect the onset of disease before you would be able to diagnose disease through post mortem brain dissection. One can hope that this technology can catch the disease early enough to make a difference in treatment options later on.