Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinsons’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Huntington’s Disease, affect millions of people worldwide. This category of diseases are characterized by the degradation of brain cells known as neurons.
While there are currently no cures for neurodegenerative diseases, many pharmaceutical companies are working rapidly to get new drugs into clinical trials. As new treatments are developed to stop or reduce progression of the disease, the need for early screening becomes critical.
In the case of Alzheimer’s disease, a diagnosis can be confirmed by detecting misfolded amyloid beta sheets (Aβ) proteins—also known as amyloid plaques. Pathologist currently use cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis to detect these plaques, but this approach is both invasive and costly to the patient.
At the PURE Institute, a research team is leveraging infrared sensing to detect Aβ in blood plasma for a minimally invasive and cost-effective method for screening and predicting the progression of the disease.1 This innovative approach using infrared, that is highly specific in characterizing proteins, presents a promising future of early intervention of neurodegenerative diseases.
1Gerwert, et al. “Aβ and tau structure‐based biomarkers for a blood‐ and CSF‐based two‐step recruitment strategy to identify patients with dementia due to Alzheimer's disease” Alzheimer's & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring, Volume 11, Issue 1 (2019): doi: 10.1016/j.dadm.2019.01.008