Friday, January 29, 2010

U.S. Cost of Alzheimer’s Disease $100 Billion per Year, New Non-Invasive Diagnostic and Monitoring Tool Patented


The cost of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) care is estimated at over $100 billion dollars per annum. AD is presently incurable and the causes remain uncertain. Scientists working to determine the cause and pathology of AD have identified various contributing factors. It is believed that cerebral accumulation and toxicity of the .beta.-amyloid protein (A.beta.) are causative events in AD pathology.

A non-invasive technique to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease by measuring changes in proteins in the eye earned U.S. Patent 7,653,428 for the Brigham and Women's Hospital, Inc. (Boston, MA). The diagnostic tools were invented by Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, Ophthalmology, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, & Biomedical Engineering Dr. Lee E Goldstein, Director of Research Center for Ophthalmic Research Dr. Leo T. Chylack, Jr.,  and Harvard Professor Ashley Ian Bush

Alzheimer's disease is a major public health concern for the aging population and the third most expensive illness in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer. Approximately 4 million Americans have AD. The prevalence of the disease in persons over 65 years of age is one in ten and increases to nearly half in those over 85.

The determinative method of diagnosis of AD remains the postmortem detection of cerebral plaques by autopsy. Antemortem diagnosis of the disease is limited to clinical techniques with poor reproducibility, specificity, and sensitivity. Currently, there are no means to detect the AD disease process prior to the emergence of clinical signs and symptoms of the disease.

Brigham and Women's Hospital’s non-invasive antemortem test to aid in the diagnosis, prognosis, staging, and monitoring of a neurodegenerative condition such as AD uses dynamic light scattering (DLS; a.k.a. quasi-elastic light scattering (QLS)), Raman spectroscopy, and other optical instrumentation that allow detection of morphological changes in the eye, which are associated with AD.

The method of monitoring provides a tool to measure the effectiveness of a therapeutic intervention in a person suffering from or at risk for developing an amyloidogenic disorder.  The method consists detecting a polypeptide aggregate in a supranuclear or deep cortical region of an ocular lens,

The polypeptide aggregate ia an amyloid protein selected from the group consisting of .beta.-amyloid precursor protein (APP), A.beta., A.beta..sub.1-42, prion protein, .alpha.-synuclein, and fragments. The polypeptide aggregate is detected using an ophthalmic instrument sensitive to light scattering; and monitoring the amount, the rate, or both the amount and the rate of aggregation over time.  Such a monitoring method allows doctors to determine if a treatment is having a beneficial effect.

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