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Research Uses IR Technology to Detect Preclinical Alzheimer’s


Alzheimer’s is a debilitating disease that has frustrated the efforts of scientists to figure out its root causes for decades. The holy grail of Alzheimer’s research has always been one of developing an early detection system that could catch the disease in its preclinical stage and thereby facilitate a more effective treatment. We could be getting closer to such a scenario thanks to two studies that are utilizing technology to measure biomarkers that indicate future Alzheimer’s case

According to a Dark Daily article published on June 4 (2018), the dual studies are being conducted in Germany and Japan. Although the studies are independent, researchers in both countries have developed methods of testing for the same biomarkers using separate technologies.

The good news for Alzheimer’s sufferers is that preliminary results look good. Indeed, that’s good news for all of us. A successful conclusion of the two studies could lead to medical science eventually treating preclinical Alzheimer’s with preventive strategies that significantly reduce the risk of actually developing the disease later on.

  • The German Study: Amyloid-Beta

Dark Daily reports that the German study, being conducted at Ruhr University, is focused on using IR technology to detect the presence of amyloid-beta in the blood of patients. Although medical science does not fully understand the relationship between amyloid-beta and actually developing Alzheimer’s, it has been proven that amyloid-beta is a reliable biomarker. In other words, people with clinical Alzheimer’s have elevated levels of amyloid-beta in their blood.

Excess amyloid-beta is thought to contribute to the formation of amyloid plaque, a substance believed to contribute to the degeneration of brain tissue in Alzheimer’s patients. In people with Alzheimer’s, amyloid-beta is malformed. It is also destructive to nerve cells. It is believed that being able to identify malformed amyloid-beta, and then treating it, could ward off Alzheimer’s.

The German researchers use an immune-infrared sensor to measure the volume of both normal and malformed amyloid beta in a person’s blood. Their strategy is based on the knowledge that amyloid-beta begins producing both healthy and unhealthy amyloid plaque years before clinical Alzheimer’s is diagnosed. The greater the volume of malformed amyloid-beta, the higher the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

  • The Japanese Study: Mass Spectrometry

In Japan, researchers got a bit of a head start on their German counterparts. Furthermore, the Japanese research relies on immunoprecipitation and mass spectrometry rather than infrared sensors to measure amyloid-beta. The most impressive aspect of the Japanese research is that it has proved 90% accurate in its measurements.

The Japanese study is similar to its German counterpart in that it is looking at amyloid-beta and the amyloid plaques it produces as biomarkers that could identify future development of clinical Alzheimer’s. Both studies are looking for the same biomarker with the same expectation of being able to prevent the disease by addressing malformed amyloid-beta at the earliest possible stage.

  • Using the Information Is Next

The next step at the conclusion of the two studies is to find a way to use the information gleaned, according to California-based Rock West Solutions. Advanced spectrometry and IR technology development have made it possible to accurately measure amyloid beta in otherwise healthy patients. Now researchers have to figure out what to do with that information.

That’s how scientific research works. Researchers uncover the root causes of a problem or challenge before passing the research to others who come up with solutions. That’s the way it’s going to work if medical science is ever to conquer Alzheimer’s disease. They are well on their way thanks to these two research projects.