The Ruoslahti Lab in La Jolla, in collaboration with our lab, has found a biomarker of early Alzheimer's disease (AD). This biomarker, identified as the protein Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) is deposited on the brain blood vessels of early AD mice. We have also identified a peptide (named DAG) that recognizes CTGF and homes to early AD mice, well before the appearance of amyloid beta plaques. This peptide can take with it iron oxide nanoparticles that can serve as contrast in Magnetic Resonance Imaging of AD lesions.
Link to the paper: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-017-01096-0
Link to the news coverage: Cancer biologists from the University of Tartu help make an important discovery on Alzheimer’s disease
Image: Brain of a mouse with early Alzheimer's disease injected with green fluorescent DAG peptide.. The target protein, CTGF (magenta), appears on the blood vessels (red) of AD brains much before the appearance of amyloid beta plaques. The DAG peptide (green) specifically recognizes CTGF on these blood vessels upon intravenous administration. Credit: Pablo Scodeller and Aman Mann.