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New Non-Invasive Method to Detect Alzheimer's

Alissa Sauer
By Alissa SauerJanuary 7, 2015

A new study from Northwestern University showed that MRI technology may be useful in the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease. Learn more about this latest development and what it means for people at risk for developing the disease. 

Using MRI Technology to Detect Alzheimer’s in Animals

In a study published by the journal Nature Nanotechnology in December of 2014, scientists and engineers from Northwestern University revealed they successfully used MRI technology to detect Alzheimer’s in animals with 90% accuracy.

The research team, led by scientists William L. Klein and Vinayak P. Dravid, developed a MRI probe that can seek out amyloid beta brain toxins, commonly thought to be responsible for Alzheimer’s. The accumulation of the toxins appear as dark areas on the MRI scans and enables researchers to detect the disease at its earliest stages, before any symptoms occur.

The study was conducted on mice but the research team also studied human brain tissue. They saw the same effects on the human brain, with large dark areas on the MRI in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s.

Klein, who is a professor of neurobiology at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, said:

“We have a new brain imaging method that can detect the toxin that leads to Alzheimer’s disease. Using MRI, we can see the toxins attached to neurons in the brain. We expect to use this tool to detect this disease early and to help identify drugs that can effectively eliminate the toxin and improve health.”

The Impact of MRI Technology on Future Alzheimer’s Treatments

Currently 1 in 9 people over the age of 65 is living with Alzheimer’s. The outlook is grim, considering there is no cure for the disease and no method for early detection of Alzheimer’s. Recent studies have shown that some Alzheimer’s symptoms can be reversed through lifestyle changes, making early detection vital to those who are living with the disease.

This new non-invasive detection method can also be used to find an effective drug treatment, as none currently exist.

Lead researcher, Vinayak P. Dravid, pointed out that, “This MRI method could be used to determine how well a new drug is working. If a drug is effective, you would expect the amyloid beta signal to go down.”

What do you think of this non-invasive test for early detection of Alzheimer’s? Would you or a loved one have this test done for early detection and better prevention? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Alissa Sauer

Alissa Sauer

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