Building blood based DNA methylation signatures for AD that are reflective of CNS changes

Funding: R01AG061127  PI: Wang L

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common neurodegenerative disorder, affecting about 6% of people 65 years and older worldwide. Currently, only symptomatic treatments are available for AD. Neuroprotective treatments to stop or even slow neurodegeneration remain elusive. A major challenge is the lack of reliable, minimally invasive, inexpensive biomarkers to aid the development of new AD treatment strategies.

Surrogate biomarkers are objectively-measured characteristics of a disease, which act as indicators of the underlying pathogenic process responsible for disease stages, including the change in that process following a therapeutic intervention. We propose to develop blood based DNA methylation biomarkers for determining disease stages in AD. A major challenge for brain diseases such as AD is that biomarkers detected in blood alone might not reflect central nervous system changes. We will pursue several innovative analytical approaches to address this challenge.

Our long term goal is to identify DNA methylation signatures for AD stages in peripheral blood of subjects, which would help facilitate the development of surrogate biomarkers that provides a degree of objectivity for detecting treatment responses in AD.