Science Webinar Series

Webinar | Unlocking the elusive mind: The role of protein biomarkers in understanding neurodegenerative disease

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Science  27 Oct 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6362, pp. 539
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6362.539-b

Summary

Neurological disorders affect millions of patients worldwide. The inaccessibility of the brain to physical examination and the complexity of clinical evaluation for such conditions represent major challenges. Subjective symptoms such as chronic pain, for example, can be difficult to confirm, while cognitive impairment can result from a range of different pathologies. In the absence of clear biological markers indicating a particular pathology, it can be difficult to provide a rapid, definitive diagnosis. These challenges are particularly pertinent in neurodegenerative diseases, as few effective treatments for slowing or stopping such conditions are currently available. This situation is confounded by the relative scarcity of blood- or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)–based biomarkers that can increase our understanding of disease pathology, and might also serve as effective differential diagnostic or prognostic tools. New protein biomarkers would ideally show specific brain pathologies and act as early indicators of disease. There is also an urgent need for biomarkers to stratify patients into subtypes of neurodegenerative disorders and facilitate selection of the most effective and appropriate treatments. Our panelists will discuss how the ability to analyze multiple protein biomarkers is beginning to address some of these challenges, providing potentially important new insights into neurological disorders.

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