Drug development for dementias is significantly hampered by the lack of easily accessible biomarkers. Fluid biomarkers of dementias provide indications of disease stage, but have little prognostic value, cannot detect early pathological changes, and can only be measured in CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) which significantly limits their applicability. In contrast, imaging based biomarkers can provide indications of probability of disease progression, yet are limited in applicability due to cost, radiation and radio-tracers. These aspects highlight the need for other approaches to the development of biomarkers of dementia, which should focus on not only providing information about pathological changes, but also on being measured easily and reproducibly. For other diseases, focus on development of assays monitoring highly specific protease-generated cleavage fragments of proteins has provided assays, which in serum or plasma have the ability to predict early pathological changes. Proteolytic processing of brain proteins, such as tau, APP, and α-synuclein, is a key pathological event in dementias. Here, we speculate that aiming biomarker development for dementias at detecting small brain protein degradation fragments of generated by brain-derived proteases specifically in blood samples could lead to the development of novel markers of disease progression, stage and importantly of treatment efficacy.
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