Labcorp Launches New Blood Test to Identify Neurodegenerative Disease

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Burlington-based Labcorp has begun selling the first widely accessible test for direct evidence of neurodegeneration and neuronal injury.

The new Neurofilament Light Chain (NfL) blood test will allow doctors to identify and verify signs of neurodegenerative diseases including multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and brain injury such as concussion, the company announced in a news release.

Neuronal fibers.
Neuronal fibers.

“In making this test widely available, Labcorp is supporting neurologists with a tool they’ve been asking for that enables faster diagnoses, better treatment decisions and improved patient care,” said Brian Caveney, M.D., chief medical officer and president of Labcorp Diagnostics. “It’s a major step forward in the monitoring and identification of patients with neuronal injury due to disease or trauma.”

Neurological disease presents in many forms, and confirmation of disease is often complex and challenging.

When neurons, the basic cells of the brain and nervous system, are damaged, proteins called neurofilaments are released and are detectable in blood. NfL, one of three main neurofilament types, has been the most widely studied in research settings, but a reliable NfL test has not been widely available for patient care until now.

Broad availability of the NfL test to physicians as part of their diagnostic toolbox should support more effective diagnosis and treatment of many disorders, according to Labcorp.

“Importantly, NfL isn’t specific to one disease, but it is highly specific to neuronal damage from a wide variety of causes, from Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis to concussion and physical injury. This test will be impactful in helping many patients,” said Joseph Volpe, Ph.D., neurology business segment and discipline director at Labcorp. “Serial use of NfL testing can help doctors to follow trends that indicate the effectiveness of medicines or therapies, or whether there is continued injury or disease progression.”

The new NfL test is performed from a standard blood collection that can be done at a hospital, physician’s office or at any of Labcorp’s nearly 2,000 patient service centers. Health care providers can order the test today. 

Blood in test tube
Blood sample used for NfL test. -- LabCorp photos

Labcorp is a global life sciences company that provides diagnostics and drug development services for health care. The company has 75,000 employees, serves clients in more than 100 countries and recorded revenue of $16 billion in 2021.

Barry Teater, NCBiotech Writer
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