Araclon Biotech has identified a new blood protein with diagnostic value for Alzheimer's disease

  • The Spanish biotech firm, in which Grifols has a majority shareholding, has presented the first results at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Vancouver (Canada)

Barcelona, July 17, 2012: Studies performed by Araclon Biotech, the Spanish biotech firm in which Grifols has a majority shareholding, have made it possible to quantify the protein Aβ-17 in the blood for the first time. The results show that it is the second most common amyloid beta in the blood (after Aβ-40) and that its levels vary as Alzheimer's disease progresses.

Levels of this protein observed in the blood using Araclon's patented "ABtest" kits on 64 individuals enabled Alzheimer's patients to be distinguished from those who were not. In addition, together with the proteins Aβ-40 and Aβ-42, it was possible to identify those individuals with mild cognitive impairment who, over the course of time, might develop Alzheimer's.

The principal significance of these results, obtained from a study performed by Araclon, in collaboration with the Fundación ACE, at the facilities of the Biomedical Research Center of La Rioja (CIBIR-Fundación Rioja Salud) is that they represent a major advance in the early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. Current clinical practice only permits detection when the disease is already at an advanced stage, when the patient's neurodegenerative process has manifested itself, and potentially irreversible brain damage has occurred.

The discovery was presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference (AAIC 2012) held in Vancouver (Canada) from 14 to 19 July.

Araclon Biotech has been a pioneer in measuring the total amount of amyloid beta in the blood, which is greater than that found in serum or plasma. This quantification has made it possible to correlate the blood levels of these proteins with the development of the disease. As a result, in addition to determining amyloid beta 40 and 42, Araclon has now included measurement of the protein Aβ-17.

The quantification of Aβ-17 in the blood, together with the research Araclon Biotech is undertaking in clinical studies with over 400 participants conducted by clinical investigators in Europe, are a major step in the search for early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD).

About Araclon ABTest kits

ABtest is a patented kit developed by Araclon Biotech to detect early stage AD (including asymptomatic individuals). It is also used to monitor patients being treated for Alzheimer's disease, and to improve the design of clinical trials. It is based on the existence of a relationship between levels of amyloid beta (Pool Aβ) in the blood and the development of AD. ABtest 40 and ABtest 42 are kits that enable the detection of amyloid beta peptides Aß40 and Aß42 in the blood using techniques improved by the company. Araclon has now added measurement of the protein Aβ-17 to these techniques.

These tests are currently only available for use in research projects, although Araclon is conducting new studies to enable it to obtain the data needed to validate ABtest kits in the health market as tools for use in the diagnosis of Alzheimer's that could be used by medical professionals in the near future as a support test for the diagnosis of this disease.

About Araclon Biotech

Araclon Biotech is a Spanish biotech company in which Grifols has a majority shareholding (51%) dedicated to the research and development of therapies and methods for the diagnosis of degenerative diseases.

Founded in 2004, this business project is a spin-off from the University of Zaragoza, and has been led from the start by Professor Manuel Sarasa, current Scientific Director of Araclon Biotech.

It currently has 4 research projects under way: one in the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (where it has already patented a kit for the detection of blood levels of amyloid beta 40 and 42), another for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, based on immunotherapy (vaccines), an emerging project that seeks to address the challenge of predicting Alzheimer's disease in asymptomatic individuals, and development of a treatment for Parkinson's disease. The company also holds a number of patents, including a European patent for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and another for its diagnosis.

About Grifols' strategy for fighting Alzheimer's

Grifols (MCE:GRF, MCE:GRF.P and NASDAQ:GRFS) is the world's third largest manufacturer of plasma derived medicines and a pioneer in the research and development of therapeutic alternatives designed to contribute to both scientific and social development.

The search for solutions that promote new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to Alzheimer's disease is currently a major focus of the group's research effort, and is one of the priorities of its R&D policy.

During recent years, Grifols has been at the forefront of some of the most innovative research into the treatment of AD and currently has a new medical trial under way for the treatment of AD with plasma derivatives. In addition, it is the leading shareholder of Araclon Biotech, following the purchase of 51% of that company's equity through the group's subsidiary and investment vehicle, Gri-Cel, a move designed to safeguard and promote the R&D projects of Araclon Biotech.