Looking into the future through the eye

Amyloid plaque in the brain signalling the presence of Alzheimer disease. Credit: Neuro Vision Imaging

Alzheimer disease affects many people, in the US 1 out of 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer or other dementia pathologies, every 67" one person in the US gets the disease. So far there is no cure, although some measures to slow down progress area available.

One of the issues today is that diagnoses follows symptoms. Not having a cure this is not a real issue but work is on to find ways to stop progress and for this advance diagnoses would be very important.

Researchers at the Sinai Medical Centre have found a way to detect the first sign of Alzheimer 15-20 years before clinical symptoms become visible. They exploit the fact that the retina is actually part of the brain. By looking at the retina with a special virus they can spot amyloid plaques that are typical signs of the disease.

They have teamed up with NeuroVision Imaging licensing the result of their study to create a special ophthalmoscope for easy plaque detection. The instrument should be approved by FDA in 2015.

The study is part of the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers and Lifestyle Flagship Study of Ageing a research involving over 1,300 subjects. 

This advances are a response to the growing effort to manage ageing, in Europe, US, Japan and Australia. In Europe there are several actions going on, among this the Health and Well Being Action Line in the EIT ICT Labs and the upcoming KIC on Ageing. As technology provides more and more information ICT is going to play an important role, both in global understanding (leveraging Big Data) and in specific intervention.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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