Traditional diagnosis and how it is advancing
For years and years, the only way to diagnose AD was to analyze an individual’s brain tissue after they had passed away. Autopsy studies revealed that most individuals develop plaques and tangles as they age. Those with AD tend to develop them far more often and in a more predictable pattern. Yet, healthcare professionals are not exactly sure as to what role both plaques and tangles play in AD. Most recently, they have relied on PET scans of the brain to find verification of the disease; however, the technology rather invasive and costly. In an attempt to find a less invasive and more cost-effective approach to detecting AD, the Cedars-Sinai research team, along with the team at NeuroVision Imaging, have teamed up to create a noninvasive retinal imaging technique for human beings. Previously, a research associate in the Department of Neurosurgery, Yosef Koronyo, conducted the basis for this study. He observed that the plaque buildup in the retina is associated with the plaque buildup in specific areas in the brain. “Now we know exactly where to look to find signs of Alzheimer’s disease as early as possible” said Koronyo.
“This is the first study demonstrating the potential to image and quantify retinal findings related to ß-amyloid plaques noninvasively in living patients using a retinal scan with high resolution. This clinical trial is reinforced by an in-depth exploration of the accumulation of ß-amyloid in the retina of Alzheimer’s patients versus matched controls, and a comparison analysis between retina and brain pathologies. Findings from this study strongly suggest that retinal imaging can serve as a surrogate biomarker to investigate and monitor Alzheimer’s disease,” said lead author Maya Koronyo-Hamaoui, associate professor of Neurosurgery and Biomedical Sciences, a research scientist of the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute, and a co-founder, a scientist, and an inventor at NeuroVision Imaging LLC.