Healthy Living

New Research Can Improve Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer's

New Research Can Improve Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer's

New Research Can Improve Early Diagnosis of Alzheimer's

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive as well as the most common form of dementia. Dementia is a general term used to describe a wide range of symptoms, such as memory loss, difficulty thinking, and other brain-related skills that may affect an individual’s ability to perform daily activities. AD accounts for up to 80 percent of cases relating to dementia. Individuals with AD may experience symptoms such as difficulties with problem-solving, memory loss, decreased judgment, mood swings, personality changes, disorientation, and others. These symptoms tend to worsen over time. 

Sometime in the future, early and proper diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease will be able to be done with a noninvasive retinal imaging technique. However, to grasp the severity of the symptoms associated with AD, further research still needs to be conducted. Researchers are continuously working to uncover different aspects of AD as well as other neurological disorders. About 90 percent of new findings about AD have been uncovered within the last 20 years, and remarkable progress has been made in revealing how the disease affects the brain. Currently, around the world, promising research is underway, bringing the hope that it will be possible to prevent the onset of AD earlier as well as discover new treatments.

Certain risk factors associated with AD have been identified, and they include genetics, age, and a family history of the disease. Furthermore, two abnormal structures, which are plaques and tangles, have been associated with the obstruction and death of nerve cells. According to experts, the communication between the nerve cells is blocked by the build-up of plaques and tangles, and this can damage and kill the nerve cells. Further, this can cause symptoms of AD.

Doctors are not able to intervene and treat the disease before substantial neurodegeneration occurs; this and other challenges are faced by healthcare experts in diagnosing AD. However, new noninvasive imaging techniques have been developed to pinpoint the accumulation of amyloid proteins in the human retina. These proteins may present themselves decades prior to the onset of other AD symptoms, and this early detection and subsequent treatment could enable further advancements.

A study led by associate professor of neurosurgery and biomedical sciences Mayo Koronyo at Cedars-Sinai medical center published the insight in a journal of investigation. The study revealed that noninvasive retinal scan can be used to screen individuals for their risk of AD. This scan could also help in detecting the early signs of AD before any symptoms are experienced. These findings signify a major advancement in the detection of AD’s onset.

Cross and flat mount sections were taken by researchers from 23 deceased patients with AD, upon modifying the retinal imaging trial. Also in this study, 14 control sections were taken, and the cellular layer was analyzed, as well as its structure and deposition of amyloid protein deposits. Also, a liquid solution containing curcumin was given to 16 patients with AD. Increased amounts of amyloid-beta deposits were revealed in the study. In patients with AD, the study also revealed a significant neuronal loss. Researchers found a link between the retinal deposits and blood vessels in the peripheral regions of the three layers of the retina. Further calculations using a system called the retinal amyloid index were conducted. The amount of curcumin in each patient was measured using this index as well.

To turn the tide against the growing threat of this dreadful disease, screening and early detection are crucial. Repeatability is one of the major advantages of analyzing the retina. With it, patients and the progression of their disease can both be monitored carefully.