Ultrasensitive quantification of plasma biomarkers is shaping the future of care for Alzheimer’s disease thumbnail image

Ultrasensitive quantification of plasma biomarkers is shaping the future of care for Alzheimer’s disease

The transformative potential of plasma biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) was on display recently at this year’s AD/PD™ 2021 conference. The event, held virtually March 9-14, is a premier platform for world-renowned researchers to share the latest advances in an effort to improve diagnosis and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. Several posters and oral presentations were dedicated to exploring the role of plasma biomarkers in AD and the value that these easily-accessible targets can bring to clinical trials, drug development and patient care. Many of these and other recent studies in the field were made possible through the ultrasensitive multiplexing capabilities of Simoa technology. 

The ability to quantify neurology biomarkers in blood with precision opens the door for improvements in clinical trial design. Simple collection methods can reduce the need for invasive spinal taps that have traditionally been required for fluid biomarker sampling. Thus, the capacity to study markers via blood could help improve participant recruitment, retention and safety in clinical studies as well as reduce the costs associated with the work. As a pre-screening tool to stratify AD patients, plasma markers represent another cost-saving strategy through the identification of study participants prior to expensive PET scanning. In addition, the potential of these targets to discern pathological changes prior to clinical symptom onset provides the opportunity to study pre-symptomatic individuals and the impacts of therapeutic intervention at the earliest stages.

Combining plasma markers may be a valuable way to simultaneously explore the various facets of AD, including amyloid and tau pathologies and neurodegeneration. As a marker of axonal degeneration, Nf-L may serve as a secondary outcome measure to support clinical trials for novel drug treatments. Key markers such as p-tau181, p-tau231, GFAP, Aβ40 and Aβ42 are demonstrating the potential to discriminate AD from other conditions causing cognitive impairment, which can inform prognosis, clinical trial recruitment and treatment decisions. Studying AD through panels of plasma biomarkers may be an effective and efficient way to evaluate treatment efficacy and accelerate the timeline for approvals of much-needed AD therapies. 

Taken together, this recent research is illustrating the ways in which plasma biomarkers can revolutionize AD healthcare through pre-symptomatic detection, diagnostic discrimination, and less invasive techniques. The ease of sample collection and lower costs associated with plasma biomarker sampling shows promise for bringing AD testing into routine clinical practice and even home care applications with the ultimate goal of improving disease management and patient care. As the technology platform on the leading edge of these breakthroughs, Simoa is set to play a major role in further advancing the field and bringing the next steps within reach. 


  • Blennow, K. “Blood biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease – the promise for screening, diagnostics and therapy monitoring”. AD/PD 2021 Virtual Conference, 10 March 2021. Oral presentation. 
  • Zetterberg, H. “Blood biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases – utility in clinical trials and practice.” AD/PD Virtual Conference, 10 March 2021. Oral presentation. 
  • Moscoso, A. et al. “Association of blood phosphorylated tau181 and neurofilament light with progressive neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease”. AD/PD 2021 Virtual Conference, 9 March 2021 – 14 March 2021. Poster P245.  
  • Alcolea, D. et al. “Plasma biomarkers in the AT(N) categories for the detection of Alzheimer’s disease”. AD/PD 2021 Virtual Conference, 9 March 2021 – 14 March 2021. Poster P232.
  • For more details on research featuring Simoa technology at AD/PD™ 2021, click here.

Read our press release on the event here

Listen to a roundtable discussion on conference highlights here