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SIBIA REPORTS SUCCESS OF ALZHEIMER'S DIAGNOSTIC ASSAY

 SIBIA REPORTS SUCCESS OF ALZHEIMER'S DIAGNOSTIC ASSAY
 LA JOLLA, Calif., Aug. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- SIBIA Inc., a San


Diego-area biopharmaceutical company, together with researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine today reported that the company's diagnostic assay for a protein associated with Alzheimer's disease correctly identified specific gene carrier members of a family affected with presenile hereditary Alzheimer's disease. The data, reported in the Aug. 22 issue of The Lancet, showed significant and age dependent reductions in the levels of soluble amyloid precursor proteins (APP) in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of affected family members, according to William T. Comer, Ph.D., SIBIA's president and chief executive officer.
 "The data reported in this study confirm our belief that the level of soluble APP in CSF will be useful in the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease," Comer said. "In previous work, we have demonstrated significantly lower soluble APP levels in known Alzheimer's patients as compared to healthy controls. The current findings show that certain patient populations, including those with genetically linked Alzheimer's and other familial amyloidotic diseases, also show a reduction in soluble APP levels in their CSF."
 Data on SIBIA's assay were first reported in the April 1, 1992 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The monoclonal antibody assay measures CSF levels of soluble APP, a substance produced during the body's normal processing of amyloid beta protein precursor (ABPP). The data reported in the PNAS paper showed a level of soluble APP in the CSF of Alzheimer's patients that was 3.5 times lower than in healthy controls.
 The family studied in The Lancet paper had a history of presenile (age 45 to 50) Alzheimer's disease linked to a single amino acid mutation (phenylalanine for valine) at codon 717 of the ABPP protein. The family members studied included as asymptomatic members without the gene mutation, two asymptomatic gene carriers and a gene carrier with moderately advanced Alzheimer's disease.
 Researchers led by Dr. Steven L. Wagner, director of SIBIA's protease nexin research, analyzed CSF samples from these family members, from three healthy controls and from three individuals clinically diagnosed as having probable Alzheimer's disease. The latter group was pathologically confirmed as having the disease when autopsies were performed.
 "We found the threefold lower soluble APP levels in the family member with Alzheimer's disease and an intermediate level in one of the asymptomatic gene carriers," Wagner said. "Neuropsychological testing showed that the asymptomatic gene carrier (age in late 30s) did in fact have impairment in verbal and visual recent memory, information processing and conceptual reasoning, although this individual would not meet the criteria for a clinical diagnosis of probable Alzheimer's disease. The other gene carrier, mid-30s in age, had normal APP levels. Thus, the decline in soluble APP appeared to be proportional to increasing age in the gene carriers. However, soluble APP appeared to decline significantly only after amyloid deposition and neuronal loss were sufficiently widespread to begin impairment of cognitive function, a factor confirmed by neuropsychological testing."
 The data reported in The Lancet further support the hypothesis that reductions of soluble APP are indicative of the deposition of amyloid in neuritic plaques and in cerebral blood vessel walls as is found in patients with Alzheimer's disease. Currently the identification of these lesions at autopsy is necessary for doctors to finally confirm the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. Prior to death, diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease may be based on physician evaluation, neuropsychological tests and brain scans, none of which are definitive.
 In another paper, which will appear in the Annals of Neurology, researchers from SIBIA and the University of California, Irvine, reported studies of patients afflicted with a related neurological disease known as hereditary cerebral hemorrhage with amyloidosis- Dutch type (HCHWA-D). These patients carry a single mutation resulting in a glutamine for glutamate substitution within the AB domain of the ABPP protein. All showed a three- to fourfold lower level of soluble APP in their CSF compared to controls.
 SIBIA is conducting further studies of the assay in conjunction with leading Alzheimer's disease researchers at medical institutions across the United States and will initially offer the test through specialty reference laboratories.
 "We believe this assay will be the first biochemical diagnostic available for a substance known to be associated with Alzheimer's disease," Comer added. "Not only will it assist doctors in making a correct diagnosis of patients even in early stages of dementia, but it will also enable clinicians around the world to test Alzheimer's therapeutics on confirmed Alzheimer's disease patients, perhaps offering more certainty of drug effectiveness. A quantitative measure of efficacy could facilitate regulatory approval of these therapies."
 Alzheimer's disease leads to a progressive and irreversible loss of memory and cognitive function in affected individuals. It is the most common cause of dementia and is primarily a disease of the elderly. It afflicts from 5 percent to 10 percent of the population over 65 years old, and its incidence increases with age. It has been estimated that close to 4 million people in the United States alone suffer from Alzheimer's disease, with that number expected to grow to between 6 million and 10 million by 2040.
 SIBIA Inc. is a privately held biopharmaceutical company founded by the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. The company is developing unique therapeutic products for neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, epilepsy and stroke, based on discovery technology that provides a novel approach to the processes underlying these disorders.
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 /CONTACT: Michael Dunn of SIBIA, 619-452-5892, or Linda Seaton of Keatinge/Seaton Communications, 619-625-2100, for SIBIA/ CO: SIBIA Inc. ST: California IN: MTC SU:


AL-LS -- SD001 -- 2071 08/21/92 10:31 EDT
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