Sometimes we are asked what leads us down a specific road or what inspires an idea. It is generally the need to find a solution to a problem that is an “outlier”. An outlier is a case or situation that doesn’t fit the rest of the data. Everything isn’t a bell-shaped curve, although that is where we start. As the Covid19 Pandemic sweeps the country, everyone is becoming savvy with interpreting clinical disease and seropositive test results. We thought it would be fun to let you interact with our data as we develop our newest idea.
Our recent work with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) led us to neurofilament light, NfL, a possible biomarker for disease in equine neurodegenerative disease. Serum NfL is a validated marker for ALS as well as a potential pharmacodynamic biomarker that is relevant to ALS therapy development. It is possible that we could measure NfL in horses and use the result to select candidates for a field study as well as determine a response to treatment. NfL can change in days with an effective therapy.
We started the analysis of banked serum from some of the cases on which we consulted and will look for patterns. Our objective is to identify disease conditions and clinically validate serum NfL as a prognostic in our work. When we are satisfied we will send all the data to our biostatistician, the real number cruncher. Of course, he always says we have a biased data set-we look at horses that veterinarians suspect equine protozoal myeloencephalitis or polyneuritis equi. We have some “gold standard” negative sera and even sera from other countries in which some diseases aren’t present.
What does early, exciting work look like? Here is the result. Nine sera were selected and examined against many controls. We detected NfL in horses. A high value in our clinical case analysis was 46.04 ng/ml and the lowest 2.78 ng/ml. We will select more cases and update our graph so you can follow along! Most likely the graph will get more complicated as we add horses with and without disease, and before and after treatment.
If we selected a sample from a horse that you submitted you already got the result by email. If you would like us to add your sample to our early analysis, please give us a call at the lab. We are all here hunkered down and continuing to offer you cutting edge work.