Is it possible to detect Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s early with a portable device?

Is it possible to detect Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s early with a portable device?

The identification of biomarkers for Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease that can be found in bodily fluids like blood, urine, and saliva could aid in the discovery and development of new medications and therapies. Last year, a team of scientists created a wireless gadget that can identify SARS-CoV-2 strains in particular by detecting a very small number of molecules. They have now demonstrated that their gadget can be modified to identify chemicals connected to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Researchers from the University of California, San Diego have demonstrated that their wireless, handheld device, which they developed to identify particular biomolecules, can also identify molecules linked to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Initially, the instrument was designed to identify SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19. Aptamers, which are brief strands of DNA or RNA that bind exclusively to particular molecules, are how it functions. Electrical energy can flow when binding occurs on the machine’s single-atom-thick graphene layer, producing a positive reading that verifies the presence of the molecule. In a previous study, it was demonstrated that their device could identify particular strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus when very few viruses were present.

In their most recent study, this group of researchers demonstrated that their apparatus can identify various forms of tau and beta-amyloid, peptides that are characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as α-synuclein, a peptide that is present in higher concentrations in the brains of patients with Parkinson’s disease. To test the device’s capacity to identify these molecules, samples extracted from the autopsied brains of departed patients were used. The quantity of Americans who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. S. may increase from 6.77 million to 13.78 million by 2060 if no major advancements are made in the field. While it has proven difficult to design clinical trials demonstrating the efficacy of drugs with cohorts of patients already exhibiting symptoms of the disease, breakthroughs are required not only in the diagnosis but also in the development of treatments. Currently, MRI, PET scanning, and neurocognitive testing are used in combination to detect Alzheimer’s disease, often after cognitive decline and other symptoms have started. The way that PET scans function is by looking for amyloid plaques, which are created when a peptide called beta-amyloid tangles with tau to form plaques. The cognitive decline that is observed in patients with Alzheimer’s disease is believed to be caused by these tangles interfering with nerve cell signaling in the brain.

The majority of studies concentrate on the existence, functions, and potential mechanisms of these peptides because Alzheimer’s disease patients’ brains have these plaques. Because these peptides are found in the brain, isolating them is still difficult and may require surgery. The findings of the study demonstrated that the apparatus the researchers had created could accurately and precisely identify several forms of these beta-amyloid peptides at low concentrations. Lead author Dr. Ratnesh Lal told Medical News Today in an interview, “What we saw in this paper is that the amount of beta-amyloid that goes into the brain in the saliva is almost 1,000 times more than what is the sensitivity of our system.”. He claimed that because there was no cross-reactivity to skew results, the device’s strength came from the electrical system’s sensitivity.

According to the paper’s authors, they plan to test the device’s ability to identify these molecules in blood plasma and cerebrospinal fluid before moving on to saliva and urine. Dr. Thomas K. Karikari, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh who studies biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease and was not involved in the research, stated that more research needs to be done to determine the best kind of biomarkers to detect Alzheimer’s disease in various types of body fluid. Standardized pathology tests on tau and amyloid present additional difficulties in obtaining consistent enough results to prevent false positives and negatives. Because amyloid is naturally very sticky, it can be challenging to separate and manipulate. Because of the blood-brain barrier, blood concentrations and concentrations in other tissues outside of the brain may not always reflect most changes observed in the brain. Dr. Karikari told  that his own research had looked at the phosphorylation patterns on Alzheimer’s specific tau-peptides to determine which specific molecules could be determined to have come from the brain and present in different concentrations in Alzheimer’s patients compared to a non-disease population. Put another way, you cannot tell if these biomarkers have come from the brain and not somewhere else in the body.

His earlier studies have demonstrated that tau binding is especially strong in the vicinity of the salivary gland. At the time, we demonstrated that there was no difference in saliva quality between the diagnostic group. Because tau in saliva would not always come from the brain, it was determined that tau in saliva was not a reliable biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease. “So we actually ended that at that point,” Dr. Karikari said. But now, he stated, “perhaps we can go back and be able to characterize the tau from the saliva much better,” since research has been done to identify the phosphorylation patterns on tau that define Alzheimer’s disease. “Dr. Less research has been done on urine, according to Karikari, and gathering urine from elderly patients who are incontinent presents unique difficulties. The device should be on the market in a year, according to the paper’s authors, who say they intend to apply for FDA approval in the next five to six months.


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