• Scottish research hub to trial early stage Alzheimer’s test
    From left : University of St Andrews Quaestor and Factor Derek Watson MBE, SBS Head of Laboratory Sciences Dr Alison Green and Professor Craig Ritchie, SBS founder and CEO. (Credit: University of St Andrews)

Research News

Scottish research hub to trial early stage Alzheimer’s test

May 07 2024

The new Scottish Brain Sciences (SBS) laboratory at the University of St Andrews Eden Campus innovation hub and multinational healthcare company Roche Diagnostics, are collaborating in a study that will bring the first blood tests to Scotland for the detection of Alzheimer’s disease in its early stages.  

SBS researchers will use a new test incorporating a biomarker for detection of the proteins indicating the build-up of amyloid in the brain, an early step in the development of Alzheimer’s.

In the last year, the first medicines have become available that can clear amyloid and slow the cognitive decline associated with it.

Small scale studies have shown the new tests can match the accuracy of existing diagnostic tools - brain scans and lumbar punctures – which are costly, invasive and can only be carried out in specialist centres where the equipment is often in huge demand. The study will investigate how the tests might be used in the frontline NHS to aid early diagnosis.

SBS Head of Laboratory Sciences Dr Alison Green, who has more than 25 years of experience developing dementia biomarkers, said early testing is crucial: “Most people do not see a doctor until they experience memory problems, which means disease processes such as the build-up of amyloid are likely to have started years before.”

SBS founder and CEO, Professor Craig Ritchie, who is also Professor of Brain Health and Neurodegenerative Medicine at the University of St Andrews commented: “Memory and thinking tests are a key part of any diagnosis, but our current healthcare system is not set up to find the people who are at the very early stages of the disease.”

Dr Ashton Harper, Head of Medical Affairs for Roche Diagnostics UK and Ireland added: “Early and accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease has many potential benefits including timely management of symptoms, the ability to plan for the future, facilitating access to clinical trials and, when they become available, disease-modifying treatments.

“We are excited about the potential of our blood-based biomarker. The work being undertaken by Scottish Brain Sciences, in this new laboratory at St Andrews, is playing a pivotal part in helping to make that a reality.”

The University of St Andrews is supporting the initiative by providing purpose-built laboratory space at its innovation hub, Eden Campus.

St Andrews Quaestor and Factor (Chief Operating Officer) Derek Watson said the partnership with SBS is an important part of the process of developing a nationally important innovation campus:

 “We are proud to be involved with what is a transformative venture into the realm of life sciences, proudly Scottish-led, poised to redefine global research standards and one which offers hope to families in Scotland and across the world.”

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