Eye Scan That Detects Protein in Retina Could Aid in Quicker Alzheimer’s Diagnoses, New Study Reports

Eye Scan That Detects Protein in Retina Could Aid in Quicker Alzheimer’s Diagnoses, New Study Reports
In the future, doctors may diagnose Alzheimer's disease by scanning a patient's eyes — thanks to new evidence that telltale plaques of amyloid-beta are present not only in the brain, but also in the retina. Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles has developed a method to noninvasively detect amyloid deposits in the eye, potentially allowing for a diagnosis even before symptoms appear. Their report, “Retinal amyloid pathology and proof-of-concept imaging trial in Alzheimer’s disease,” described the results of a small proof-of-concept clinical trial that tested an eye imaging method specifically developed for the study. The work appeared in the journal JCI Insight. "The findings suggest that the retina may serve as a reliable source for Alzheimer's disease diagnosis," Maya Koronyo-Hamaoui, the study's principal investigator and associate professor at Cedars-Sinai, said in a press release. Until recently, the only way to positively diagnose Alzheimer’s was by analyzing a patient’s brain after death to detect the diagnostic feature of the disease: aggregates of amyloid-beta in the brain. More recently, researchers started using a brain imaging method called positron emission tomography (PET) to visualize the plaque in living people. But the method requires the use of a radioactive tracer, and is neither cheap nor adapted for repeated use. In 2011, the team discovered that — just as the eye is considered to be a mirror of the soul
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