Jennifer Smith, senior research scientist in the John Aitchison Lab, was tagged to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. And because the Aitchison group studies ALS, Jennifer’s lab mates took the challenge, too. Jennifer offered this description of the work they are doing to create a blood test for early detection of ALS:
ISB is developing a multi-component blood-based assay (blood test) for early detection and disease tracking of ALS. We are doing this because there are no good diagnostic tests for ALS and, on average, it takes a year to get a definitive diagnosis, resulting in significant loss of therapeutic opportunity. There is a dire need for a robust and quantitative blood biomarker assay to help confirm initial diagnosis of ALS and to track disease activity not only for clinical use, but to also to develop new therapies for the disease.
The assay we are developing is called the indicator cell assay platform (iCAP) for blood-based diagnostics that can be used for early detection of ALS, and as a diagnostic tool for drug development. The iCAP uses cultured cells as biosensors, capitalizing on the natural ability of cells to detect signals present in serum from patients with ALS with exquisite sensitivity, as opposed to traditional assays that rely on direct detection of molecules in blood.
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And now, the Aitchison Lab challenges the following groups:
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