Alzheimer's and Aging Research Center of Torrey Pines, California

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Research News

SAN DIEGO, March 10, 2003 - The Alzheimer's and Aging Research Center today announced that one its award grantees, Dr. Alan Kleinfeld, has developed a rapid, sensitive, cost effective means for detecting heart attacks and strokes much earlier than current methods. Studies show early detection and treatment of heart attack and stroke, within one hour of symptom onset, can reduce mortality by 50 to 90%. Dr. Kleinfeld presented his findings to colleagues at symposia for the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association in 2002.

Funded in part by the Alzheimer's and Aging Research Center, Dr. Kleinfeld studies the molecular and physiological behavior of free fatty acids (FFA) and their relation to a host of health conditions. Patients with ischemia, diabetes, cancer and other aging-related conditions exhibit elevated levels of FFA, making these molecules attractive targets for study. Whether these molecules play a role in disease etiology or merely indicate their presence remains to be determined.

Dr. Kleinfeld's recent results indicate levels of unbound free fatty acids (FFAu) in the bloodstream can be used as an effective predictor of ischemia, the initial event of a heart attack or stroke indicating restriction of blood flow to the heart or brain. Routine measurements of FFA are not performed because they are insensitive, time consuming and expensive. The advent of ADIFAB, a fluorescent molecular probe developed by Dr. Kleinfeld, makes rapid, sensitive detection of serum FFA possible. Dr. Kleinfeld presented his results, “Serum Levels of Unbound Free Fatty Acids Reveal High Sensitivity for Early Detection of Acute Myocardial Infarction in Patient Samples From the TIMI II Trial," in March 2002 at the American College of Cardiology 51st Annual Scientific Session.

In another study, Dr. Kleinfeld determined FFAu levels can aide in the diagnosis of Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS), an umbrella term used to describe a variety of serious heart disease conditions, such as unstable angina, which often lead directly to heart attack. Dr. Kleinfeld presented the findings, “Measurement of Levels of Unbound Free Fatty Acid Allows the Early Identification of Patients with Acute Coronary Syndrome," at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions in November 2002.

Dr. Kleinfeld received his Ph.D. in nuclear physics from Rutgers University. He held positions at the University of Cologne, Harvard Medical School and Medical Biology Institute before joining Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies in 1998.

The Alzheimer's and Aging Research Center supports biomedical research to find treatments and cures for Alzheimer's, heart disease, cancer, arthritis and other aging-related conditions. The Center fosters scientific collaborations, trains new scientists and provides education to the public worldwide. For more information visit our website at