Doctors make a breakthrough in the early diagnosis of Alzheimer's
The so-called Alzheimer's disease is a neurodegenerative disease that is widespread all over the world. The disease mostly occurs in the elderly. Researchers have now developed a new eye test that can detect Alzheimer's disease two decades before the first symptoms appear.
In their investigation, the scientists at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center found that a simple eye test can indicate whether people will develop Alzheimer's in later life. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "JCI Insight".
What is Alzheimer's?
There are millions of people with Alzheimer's disease worldwide. The disease mostly affects people over the age of 65. It is typical of the disease that the cognitive performance deteriorates more and more in those affected.
Examination of the eyes is a reliable and inexpensive test for Alzheimer's
The experts compared the results of the retina test with the results of scans of the affected person's brain. Both tests successfully determined which people had a greatly increased amount of plaque build-up in their brains. The results are the first indication that the examination on the eyes can be a reliable, inexpensive and non-invasive test for the detection of Alzheimer's, the scientists explain.
Testing the retina enables easier monitoring of the disease
The results suggest that the retina can be used as a reliable source for the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, emphasize the study author Dr. Maya Koronyo-Hamaoui. A big advantage of this examination is the easy repeatability of the analysis of the retina. This will enable doctors to monitor the progression of the disease more easily.
Study participants ingested curcumin
16 subjects were examined and medically monitored for the development of the new test. The participants took a solution containing curcumin. Curcumin is a natural component of the turmeric spice. This plant actually comes from South Asia and is often referred to as yellow ginger or turmeric.
Curcumin makes amyloid plaque visible in the retina
The curcumin causes the amyloid plaques to shine in the retina, so to speak. It can then be identified by a scan of the retina. The results of the tests on the patients were compared to the results of a group of younger and cognitively healthy individuals, the scientists explain.
More research is needed
In their investigation, the experts found that the diagnostic results were as accurate as with the standard invasive method. A very important finding of the new study was the discovery of so-called amyloid plaques in previously overlooked peripheral regions of the retina, the researchers emphasize. The amount of plaque in the retina correlates with the amount of plaque in certain areas of the brain, the researchers explain. However, the investigation included only a very small number of subjects and further research on this topic is now urgently needed. (as)