ALS Association Funded Research Finds Path Forward in Search for Biomarkers

NC biomarker study

Research supported by The ALS Association found that blood plasma analysis could be key to speeding up the process of diagnosing the disease and monitoring disease progression. The research was led by Dr. Michael Bereman from North Carolina State University and supported by a $100,000 grant from The ALS Association, including funding from the North Carolina Chapter.

Biomarkers are any measurable substance in the body that can be tracked over time – things like blood, chemical changes in the blood, cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) and urine. Currently, there are no known biomarkers to diagnose ALS.  

“The search for biomarkers is vital not only to diagnosing ALS more quickly, but also in helping to measure the effectiveness of potential treatments,” said Dr. Kuldip Dave, vice president of research at The ALS Association. 

Researchers looked at blood samples from people with ALS and 118 healthy individuals and analyzed the metabolites – a byproduct of metabolism – to look for patterns connected to disease progression.

  • Creatine was elevated by 49 percent in people with ALS.
  • Creatinine was decreased by 20 percent in people with ALS.
  • Methylhistidine was decreased by 24 percent in people with ALS.
  • The ratio of creatine to creatinine was elevated for both men and women with ALS.

“Early diagnosis is important, but we are in dire need of quantitative markers for monitoring progression and the efficacy of therapeutic intervention,” said Michael Bereman, associate professor of biological sciences at North Carolina State University and person living with ALS. “Since disruptions in metabolism are hallmark features of ALS, we wanted to investigate metabolite markers as an avenue for biomarker discovery.”

For more information about this study, read their work published HERE.