According to the Australian science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, which conducted new research, eye tests for Alzheimer’s could in future be used to diagnose Alzheimer’sthe disease in its early stages.
In their early trials a key Alzheimer’s biomarker can be identified in the retina and lens of the eye. The research, which is in its early stages, could see such tests used as a first step in identifying individuals with Alzheimer’s.
It is thought to be essential in diagnosing of Alzheimer’s early to allow effective treatments to do more than just ease the condition’s symptoms. Shaun Frost from the Australian science agency the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation said, “We envision this technology potentially as an initial screen that could complement what is currently used: brain PET imaging, MRI imaging, and clinical tests.
“If further research shows that our initial findings are correct, it could potentially be delivered as part of an individual’s regular eye check-up.
“The high resolution level of our images could also allow accurate monitoring of individual retinal plaques as a possible method to follow progression and response to therapy.”
The eye tests exploit the fact that the eye is, in effect, an extension of the brain. Scientists looked for signs of beta-amyloid protein, which forms clumps in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and is a key indicator that the disease is present. The Australian team used the turmeric spice ingredient curcumin as a fluorescent tag that allowed beta-amyloid to show up in the retina.
A total of 200 volunteers were asked to participate in the research. Preliminary results on 40 participants showed that the test picked up every participant with Alzheimer’s and correctly identified more than 80% of those who did not.
Clearly there is much more work and research to be undertaken before a cure for Alzheimer’s can be found. But once again it is extraordinary and further evidence of what the eye can reveal and highlights the need for regular eye checks.