Development of an indicator cell assay for early detection of Alzheimer's disease from blood samples


To develop a low-cost, blood-based assay for pre-symptomatic Alzheimer's disease

Anticipated Impact: 

Early detection of Alzheimer's disease to improve management of the condition and support clinical testing of new therapies


Dr. Smith and colleagues are developing an indicator cell assay (ICA) to detect blood-based factors that predict Alzheimer's disease (AD) before there are any symptoms. Identifying AD years or decades before overt symptoms (which is not currently possible) may permit earlier treatment and improved monitoring of therapeutic responses. Further, pharmaceutical companies could use the ICA to assess the effectiveness of new AD drugs in clinical trials. Dr. Smith and her team will culture cells in the presence of blood from AD patients or healthy individuals to identify a “signature” of AD that will be validated in larger studies following the LSDF grant period. A new company is envisioned to commercialize the assay. The ICA is a platform that could potentially be used to detect other diseases as well.

Collaborating organization: Seattle Institute for Biomedical and Clinical Research

Alzheimer’s Disease Detection

Grant Update

Principal Investigator:
Jennifer Smith
Grantee Organization:
Institute for Systems Biology
Grant Title:
Development of an indicator cell assay for early detection of Alzheimer's disease from blood samples
Grant Cohort and Year:
2013 Proof of Concept (03)
Grant Period:
02/01/2014 - 01/31/2016 (Completed)
Grant Amount:
We are developing an indicator cell assay platform (iCAP) for blood-based diagnostics of Alzheimer's disease (AD). The assay does not directly assay molecules in blood; instead it capitalizes on the natural ability of cultured cells to detect and respond to disease signals in blood with exquisite sensitivity. We generated an iCAP-based classifier that can predict whether serum samples are from patients with early-stage AD or from normal patients with cross-validated accuracy of 74%. These data demonstrate feasibility of developing an iCAP for blood-based diagnostics of AD.

Impact in Washington

Location of LSDF Grantee
Locations of Collaborations/Areas of Impact

Legislative Districts:
11, 34, 36, 37, 43, 46

Health Impacts

Alzheimer's Disease Detection