American Biogenetic Sciences Inc. of Notre Dame, Ind., saidThursday that it has filed for a patent covering a method ofdiagnosing Alzheimer's disease using monoclonal antibodies.The method involves the detection of an undisclosed substancethat the company said is normally present in the brain in smallamounts that increase substantially with the onset ofAlzheimer's. The diagnostic blood test will permit screening oflarge populations and facilitate early treatment, said AlfredRoach, ABS chairman.

The method is based on work done at Trinity College in Dublin,Ireland, by Paul Voorheis and exclusively licensed to ABS.Voorheis said he can have a diagnostic ready within sixmonths, and ABS (NASDAQ:MABXA) plans to seek U.S. marketingapproval next year, Roach said.

Scientists are searching intently for a diagnostic forAlzheimer's. In February, researchers reported findings thatmight be useful for diagnosing the disease. A team at OxfordUniversity in England found an abnormal form of theacetylcholinesterase enzyme in the cerebrospinal fluid ofAlzheimer's patients. A second group at St. Mary's HospitalMedical School in London found an association betweenAlzheimer's and a mutation in the amyloid precursor gene.

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