Proposed BioRepository platform solution for the ALS research community

Neurology Clinical Trials Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, Massachusetts 02129, USA.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Impact Factor: 2.37). 01/2011; 12(1):11-6. DOI: 10.3109/17482968.2010.539233
Source: PubMed


ALS is a rare disorder whose cause and pathogenesis is largely unknown ( 1 ). There is a recognized need to develop biomarkers for ALS to better understand the disease, expedite diagnosis and to facilitate therapy development. Collaboration is essential to obtain a sufficient number of samples to allow statistically meaningful studies. The availability of high quality biological specimens for research purposes requires the development of standardized methods for collection, long-term storage, retrieval and distribution of specimens. The value of biological samples to scientists and clinicians correlates with the completeness and relevance of phenotypical and clinical information associated with the samples ( 2 , 3 ). While developing a secure Web-based system to manage an inventory of multi-site BioRepositories, algorithms were implemented to facilitate ad hoc parametric searches across heterogeneous data sources that contain data from clinical trials and research studies. A flexible schema for a barcode label was introduced to allow association of samples to these data. The ALSBank™ BioRepository platform solution for managing biological samples and associated data is currently deployed by the Northeast ALS Consortium (NEALS). The NEALS Consortium and the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Neurology Clinical Trials Unit (NCTU) support a network of multiple BioBanks, thus allowing researchers to take advantage of a larger specimen collection than they might have at an individual institution. Standard operating procedures are utilized at all collection sites to promote common practices for biological sample integrity, quality control and associated clinical data. Utilizing this platform, we have created one of the largest virtual collections of ALS-related specimens available to investigators studying ALS.

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    ABSTRACT: J. Neurochem. (2011) 117, 528–537. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a rapidly progressive and ultimately fatal neurodegenerative disease with an average survival of 3 years from symptom onset. Rapid and conclusive early diagnosis is essential if interventions with disease-modifying therapies are to be successful. Cytoskeletal modification and inflammation are known to occur during the pathogenesis of ALS. We measured levels of cytoskeletal proteins and inflammatory markers in the CSF of ALS, disease controls and healthy subjects. We determined threshold values for each protein that provided the optimal sensitivity and specificity for ALS within a training set, as determined by receiver operating characteristic analysis. Interestingly, the optimal assay was a ratio of the levels for phosphorylated neurofilament heavy chain and complement C3 (pNFH/C3). We next applied this assay to a separate test set of CSF samples to verify our results. Overall, the predictive pNFH/C3 ratio identified ALS with 87.3% sensitivity and 94.6% specificity in a total of 71 ALS subjects, 52 disease control subjects and 40 healthy subjects. In addition, the level of CSF pNFH correlated with survival of ALS patients. We also detected increased pNFH in the plasma of ALS patients and observed a correlation between CSF and plasma pNFH levels within the same subjects. These findings support large-scale prospective biomarker studies to determine the clinical utility of diagnostic and prognostic signatures in ALS.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2011 · Journal of Neurochemistry
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    ABSTRACT: Insights into the mechanisms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) have relied predominantly on the study of postmortem tissue. Modern technology has improved the ability of scientists to probe effectively the underlying biology of ALS by examination of genomic, proteomic and physiological changes in patients, as well as to monitor functional and structural changes in patients over the course of disease. While effective treatments for ALS are lacking, the discovery of biomarkers for this disease offers clinicians tools for rapid diagnosis, improved ways to monitor disease progression, and insights into the pathophysiology of sporadic ALS. The ultimate aim is to broaden the therapeutic options for patients with this disease.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2011 · Nature Reviews Neurology
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    ABSTRACT: Despite major advances in deciphering the neuropathological hallmarks of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), validated neurochemical biomarkers for monitoring disease activity, earlier diagnosis, defining prognosis and unlocking key pathophysiological pathways are lacking. Although several candidate biomarkers exist, translation into clinical application is hindered by small sample numbers, especially longitudinal, for independent verification. This review considers the potential routes to the discovery of neurochemical markers in ALS, and provides a consensus statement on standard operating procedures that will facilitate multicenter collaboration, validation and ultimately clinical translation.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2012 · Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
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