WHITEFISH, MT / April 3, 2014 Concussions are common in recreational and professional sports with an
estimated 1.6 million sustained concussion-related injuries per year in
the U.S. alone. Since concussions aren’t detectable using X-rays or CT
scans, they often go undiagnosed and attempts to prevent them have been
difficult. These concussions can lead to far more serious problems like
chronic traumatic encephalopathy ("CTE") – a progressive degenerative
disease that can only be diagnosed postmortem.
CTE has been implicated in a rising number of sports-related suicides
and health issues. In 2013, the National Football League ("NFL") reached
a tentative $765 million settlement over concussion-related brain
injuries among its retired players, agreeing to compensate victims, pay
for medical exams, and underwrite research. The move came after more
than 4,500 former athletes complained of suffering from dementia,
depression, or Alzheimer’s disease which are conditions often associated
In this article, we’ll take a look at how one company aims to crack open
the brain’s black box, diagnose, and potentially treat
neurodegenerative diseases like CTE (along with a number of other brain
conditions) with simple and affordable blood tests.
What’s Happening in the Brain?
Diseases of the brain are notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat.
Alzheimer’s disease is perhaps the best example of these failures. In
2013, Baxter International Inc.’s (NYSE: BAX) Gammagard joined a growing
number of treatments – such as Johnson & Johnson Inc.’s (NYSE: JNJ)
bapineuzumab and Pfizer Inc.’s (NYSE: PFE) Dimebon – that failed Phase
III clinical trials despite early optimism. These failures resulted from
a lack of understanding of what is really happening in the brain.
On March 5, 2014, Aethlon Medical Inc. (OTC: AEMD) announced that its
researchers (at the company’s subsidiary Exosome Sciences, Inc.) had
isolated brain-derived exosomes. By using them as a "liquid biopsy", the
company identified exosomes carrying brain-specific biomarkers
associated with conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, CTE, and Traumatic
Brain Injury ("TBI"). For instance, exosomes transported across the
blood-brain barrier can carry beta-amyloid or tau protein into
peripheral circulation, which are biomarkers for Alzheimer’s and CTE.
Exosomes are cell-derived vesicles, present in biological fluids, which
facilitate intracellular communication. Since they contain biologically
active proteins and regulatory RNAs, they create a microenvironment for
the progression of disease and analyzing them could provide critical
information for identifying and monitoring a broad array of acute and
chronic conditions. The problem was always differentiating where the
exosomes came from in the first place.
Aethlon’s discovery means that scientists may soon be able to "see" what’s happening within the brain using blood-based liquid biopsies. In
the case of the professional athlete who has suffered from multiple
concussions, there is now the possibility that a blood test could
identify the presence of tau-related exosomes that could identify the
onset of CTE and potentially monitor disease progression. Presently,
CTE can only be diagnosed postmortem through an autopsy.
Tip of the Iceberg in Terms of Potential
On March 14, 2014, Aethlon Medical also disclosed that it had isolated
brain-derived exosomes released into the bloodstream from aggressive
brain tumors. The team identified, quantified, and characterized
circulating Glioblastoma multiforme ("GBM") exosomes. The move could
eventually help oncologists better diagnose the aggressive cancer early
and aid in its treatment. In addition, the high recurrence rate of these
cancers means that repeat diagnosis is just as important.
It turns out that cancer-related exosomes also play a significant role
in suppressing the immune system as well as in promoting angiogenesis,
which allows tumors to create their own blood supply for survival. In
this regard, Aethlon is targeting the elimination of tumor-secreted
exosomes from circulation with their therapeutic candidate, known as the
Click here to watch
Dr. Douglas Taylor, Chief Scientific Officer of Aethlon Medical
subsidiary Exosome Sciences and a pioneer in exosome research, discuss
recent esoxome/brain discoveries.
Since exosomes are present in biological fluids, they could be used to
diagnose and treat disease conditions beyond brain cancers and
neurodegenerative disorders. Aethlon Medical is already working on tests
for other forms of cancer including ovarian, colorectal and melanoma.
Management hopes that the removal of exosomes will reverse immune
suppression, thereby allowing patients to respond better to
Potential Investment Opportunity
Aethlon Medical Inc. (OTC: AEMD) trades with a market capitalization of
just $40.2 million. Based on recent discoveries, investors may want to
take a closer look at the company given its ability to isolate
brain-derived exosomes. That ability could pave the way to both
diagnostics and therapeutics designed to treat diseases that are
otherwise nearly impossible to diagnose and/or treat, like CTE and
Alzheimer’s disease. Over the past 52 weeks, the stock has already risen
more than 75% as investors may be catching on to its potential, but as
with its exosome technology, that could be just the beginning.
For more information, see the following resources:
- Aethlon Medical Website
- Exosome Sciences Website
- Recent SEC Filings
Register for email updates on Aethlon Medical developments here: http://www.emerginggrowthcorp.com/emailassets/aemd/aemd_landing.php
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SOURCE: TDM Financial