Monday, July 14, 2014

Key to Detecting Alzheimer's Early Could Be in the Eye

Scientists have found that certain biological changes in the retina and lens of the eye, and in the sense of smell, may help predict whether people with no or minor memory issues may go on to develop the progressive brain disease, according to findings presented here Sunday at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference.
But amyloid plaques found in the brain also are known to be deposited in the eye. Two company-funded studies found that those deposits can be detected through noninvasive eye-imaging technology and are highly correlated with the amyloid results from brain imaging.
Cognoptix Inc., a closely held biotech company in Acton, Mass., focuses on amyloid detection in the lens of the eye. CSIRO Australia, the country's national science agency, and its Sacramento, Calif.-based partner, NeuroVision Imaging LLC, have been studying the retina, in the back of the eyes.
The retina is like a "piece of brain outside the brain," said Shaun Frost, a researcher at CSIRO Australia.
The first 40 patients in a 200-participant study showed that retina changes correlated strongly with amyloid plaque development in the brain. The full study will be completed this year, according to Dr. Frost.

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