A new biosensor developed by scientists at the University of Leeds could revolutionise the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
The research explains how the biosensor measures harmful clusters of the protein amyloid-beta in a patient’s bloodstream, an early indicator of Alzheimer’s disease. The sensor works by a blood test.
Previous studies have indicated that the level of amyloid clusters in the blood correlates with the level of amyloid clusters in the brain. This is lined with Alzheimer’s disease. The tacky protein latches on neurotransmitters in the brain disrupting the information it is relaying. This leads to the death of the cell.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. There is no cure and current diagnosis techniques are unreliable and unspecific. By 2050 Alzheimer’s is expected to affect 1 in 85 people.
The team was led by Dr Jo Rushworth from the Faculty of Biological Sciences. She said: “Until now, it has been very difficult to pick out these amyloid clusters from the individual amyloid proteins which are present in healthy people. Our biosensor test uses a new molecular recognition tool that works like a lock that only fits one key; it picks out the ball-shaped amyloid clusters without detecting individual amyloids.”
“We are still at the laboratory stage but, eventually, if we are able to develop this technology, we would be looking to have a mobile phone-sized device where you could do a finger-prick blood test and get an immediate readout” she added.
Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK, commented: “A blood test to help diagnose Alzheimer’s could be extremely beneficial for patients, but this new technology is still at an early stage of development and further research will be needed to determine its potential for use in the clinic.”