Research is ongoing into Alzheimer’s detection. This is important because early detection leads to early intervention. This intervention can mitigate the damage the disorder does to the brain, thus enabling people who have it to live better lives. The Journal of Clinical Investigation Insight has recently published information on a potential new way to scan for Alzheimer’s. This test involves directing a beam of light into the retina and looking for plaque buildup in the back of the eye.
This new test is non-invasive and only takes 20 minutes to complete. Doctors are looking for beta-amyloid plaque buildup. This type of plaque comes into play with Alzheimer’s as these plaques will clump together, disrupt neural signals in the brain, and lead to brain cell death.
For the study, scientists developed a new method of retinal imaging involving a specially designed camera. They tested it on 16 patients with Alzheimer’s and an age-matched control group. The scientists found 4.7 times more beta-amyloid plaques in the retinas of the Alzheimer’s patients versus the control group. Scientists could correlate neuronal loss in the retinas because of this plaque buildup to neuronal loss in the brain.
Right now, the team plans to test the technology further in clinical trials. Their aim is to eventually bring this new screening method to the forefront of Alzheimer’s diagnosis. If this is so, it would be a lower-cost screening technique than existing methods.
Koronyo, Yosef, David Biggs, Ernesto Barron, David S. Boyer, et. al. "Retinal Amyloid Pathology and Proof-of-concept Imaging Trial in Alzheimer’s Disease." Journal of Clinical Investigation Insight. Vol. 2 Issue 16.