New method for early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease
There is currently no single, comprehensive test for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia. University at Albany Professor Igor Lednev and colleagues at Albany Medical Center have developed a new method that may allow physicians to detect Alzheimer’s in its earliest stages and start treatment before irreversible damage has occurred.
With a worldwide estimate for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease -- between 21 and 35 million as of 2010 -- this research is significant since it potentially offers a noninvasive way to differentiate Alzheimer’s from other forms of dementia.
The research team used Near Infrared Raman microspectroscopy of blood (a spectroscopic technique that provides a molecular fingerprint based on how the sample interacts with light) and advanced computer analysis to distinguish people with Alzheimer’s disease from healthy controls as well as from people with other forms of dementia.
A series of computer programs determined which spectral features best separated people with Alzheimer’s disease from healthy controls or from people with other dementias. The algorithms open a potential opportunity for diagnosing the disease before symptoms such as memory loss or confusion start.
While the technique does not identify individual blood components that distinguish Alzheimer's from other diseases, most of the spectral "fingerprints" occurred when photons interacted with proteins, as opposed to other molecules that may be in the blood. "We can conclude that the composition of these blood samples differs in protein makeup," said Lednev.
The next step, according to Lednev, is to validate the test with a larger number of patients, and look for the effects of additional factors, such as patient medication and other illnesses.
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