UAE: United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) has been granted patent in USA, Europe and Hong Kong for the development of a new diagnostic method for Parkinson’s disease and related illnesses with similar pathology.
Professor Omar El-Agnaf from the College of Medicine and Health Sciences, has developed smart imaging compounds for monitoring the disease progression of Parkinson’s disease using noninvasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), CT-Scan and positron emission tomography (PET) technologies. The imaging agents will be investigated in phase I/II clinical trials to evaluate their use in diagnostic imaging and their use as surrogate endpoints for assessing novel pharmaceuticals.
Dr. Ali Rashid Al Noaimi, UAEU Vice Chancellor, commended this great medical achievement which will be added to the distinctive achievements of UAEU. He also praised the effort of Prof. El-Agnaf and his team which leaded to receiving the patent. “This achievement will contribute in reducing the risks of the disease by early diagnosis which is an important stage in any treatment. The development of a reliable diagnostic method in living subjects that reflects the underlying pathogenic process would be a major advance in the field of neurodegenerative diseases. The achievement confirm the continuous support of UAEU to the research field which follows the directives of HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mubaral Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, UAEU Chancellor, in order for UAEU to become a pioneer international university.”
Prof. El- Agnaf explained “Parkinson’s disease is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease leaving patients unable to direct or control their movements in a normal manner. Approximately 7 million people worldwide are affected by Parkinson’s disease, a number that is set to double in the next ten years. Lack of accurate diagnostic tools or biomarkers contributes to 20-30% misdiagnosis rate in early stage Parkinson’s disease cases. Timely diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease could make it possible to intervene with protective and preventive therapies before the disease progresses considerably and allow for better disease management. The smart compounds, if successful in clinical trials, will offer for the first time imaging agents that can directly detect Parkinson’s disease pathology.”
More recently, his research group has developed novel antibodies that specifically recognize the pathology of Parkinson’s disease. These novel antibodies have great potential for Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia research. Affecting millions of patients worldwide with no cure available to date, these neurodegenerative diseases pose one of the greatest medical and societal challenges of the 21st century especially with the rise in the aging population and health care costs.
Prof. Reyadh Almehaideb, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Scientific Research and Graduate Studies, UAEU, congratulated Prof. El Agnaf and his team for this important achievement and explained “Developing such accurate diagnostic tools and biomarkers will greatly benefit the discovery and clinical development of new therapies for Parkinson’s disease which will bring great benefits for humanities and improve the life of the individual in particular as well as the community in general.”
Prof. Almehaideb added “Professor Omar El-Agnaf received his PhD in Biochemistry in 1996 at Queen’s University Belfast, UK. In 2004 he joined the College of Medicine and Health Sciences at UAE University and was appointed to the Biochemistry Department. Since his appointment, he has assembled an excellent research team and has been successful in attracting an array of scientific funding (over $2.5 M) from prestigious international funding agencies. He is frequently invited as a speaker at international scientific and clinical meetings and is currently a member of the editorial board of six international journals. His track record of basic and translational research productivity is characterized by publications in high-ranking scientific journals.”
It is worth noting that Professor El-Agnaf has recently won an award from Lewy Body Dementia Association and Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation on a worldwide competition which was awarded to only two distinguished researchers; Professor El-Agnaf from UAE University and Professor Michelle Mielke from Mayo Clinic, USA. With this award, Professor El-Agnaf will mainly focus on developing biomarkers for dementia with Lewy bodies and related disorders such as Parkinson’s disease to help diagnosis at early stages of the disease.
© Press Release 2013Dec 2013