Yissum - Research Development Company of the Hebrew University

Novel Blood Test for Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease

Posted by Yissum - Research Development Company of the Hebrew UniversityResponsive · Innovative Products and Technologies · Israel

Summary of the technology

Non-Invasive Detection of Brain Cell Death Using Methylation Patterns of Circulating DNA: A Novel Blood Test for Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease
Project ID : 47-2020-10832

Description of the technology


LifeSciences and BioTechnology


Diagnosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cfDNA, Liquid biopsy,

Current development stage

General list: TRL3 Experimental proof of concept


It is estimated that approximately 44 million people worldwide are living with Alzheimer's disease or a related form of dementia. In 2019, Alzheimer’s and other dementias cost approximately $290 billion in the U.S, with costs expected to rise as high as $1.1 trillion by 2050.


Brain atrophy is a prominent pathological feature of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), caused by neuronal loss and correlating with clinical disease manifestation. There are no circulating biomarkers, however, that accurately identify cell death in the brain. The identification of such biomarkers is a major unmet need that could revolutionize the understanding, diagnosis and monitoring of AD.

It is well established that in many tissues, cell death (via apoptosis or necrosis) leads to the release of short DNA fragments into the blood, termed circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA). cfDNA fragments are short-lived (estimated half-life <1 hour), making them ideal biomarkers for monitoring dynamic processes. Beyond the patterns of fragment size and exact position, cfDNA contains an important layer of epigenetic information, in the form of tissue-specific methylation patterns.

Our Innovation

We propose to take advantage of methylation patterns in cfDNA, in order to develop a highly specific and sensitive assay for detection of brain-derived cfDNA, inferring the rate of neuronal, oligodendrocyte and astrocyte cell death at the time of sampling. We are proposing a revolutionary liquid biopsy technology with unprecedented specificity and sensitivity.


In studies published in recent years, Prof. Dor’s team has reported the principles of their approach and demonstrated the ability to detect tissue-specific cfDNA in the plasma of both healthy and sick patients. Employing this approach to identify a novel type of biomarker may transform research and diagnosis of AD.

Project manager

Mel Larrosa
VP Business Development Healthcare

Project researchers

Yuval Dor
HUJI, School of Medicine - IMRIC
Developmental Biology and Cancer Research

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About Yissum - Research Development Company of the Hebrew University

Technology Transfer Office from Israel

Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Ltd. Founded in 1964 to protect and commercialize the Hebrew University’s intellectual property. Ranked among the top technology transfer companies, Yissum has registered over 8,900 patents covering 2,500 inventions; has licensed out 800 technologies and has spun-off 90 companies. Products that are based on Hebrew University technologies and were commercialized by Yissum generate today over $2 Billion in annual sales.

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