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Development of a multiplex diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s Disease


   Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

  Dr V McGilligan, Dr P McClean, Dr David Gibson  Monday, February 06, 2023  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia worldwide. Current tools for monitoring AD pathology include neuroimaging biomarkers using MRI or PET and CSF biomarkers. However, diagnostic, and prognostic evaluation using neuroimaging biomarkers is expensive, and the availability of these biomarkers is limited. Therefore, early diagnosis and prevention of AD are crucial to reduce disease severity and improve prognosis. The supervisory team at Ulster University have undertaken a recent clinical study investigating blood biomarkers for AD. This work has uncovered a novel biosignature that appears to be associated with AD and may prove to be important diagnostic targets.

The overall aims of the study are to validate this biosignature to inform the development of a commercial suite of antibodies and antigens that can be used for diagnosing AD and to develop a multiplex diagnostic device that allows the testing of all targets at one time , to improve diagnostic accuracy.

The successful candidate will undergo training to develop diverse skills. Using bioinformatic approaches the PhD researcher will retrospectively interrogate an AD patient dataset to validate the current AD biomarker panel. The researcher will also undertake training in patient recruitment and clinical research methods whereby a small cohort of AD patients will be recruited to donate samples to aid the development of a diagnostic.

Additionally, the project is sponsored by Aalto Bio Reagents, a leading global developer of critical raw materials for the in vitro diagnostics (IVD) industry. As part of the project the researcher will have the opportunity to spend a work placement with the company whereby, they will undergo valuable training in antibody design and development. This will permit the researcher to develop key skills required in the IVD and other similar industries and provide the candidate with a greater understanding of exploiting research outcomes to drive impact.

The PhD researcher will be based within the School of Medicine at Ulster University, supervised by an experienced supervisory team in the area of AD, and includes members who have previously worked in the private antibody and IVD sectors. The researcher will also be afforded the opportunity to participate at international conferences, and work closely with patient and public involvement groups to promote this collaborative and worthy research area.


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