Researchers at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in the UK have created a non-invasive method with the potential to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease and differentiate various neurodegenerative disorders.
Expected to improve the diagnostic accuracy and allow precise personalised treatment, the new research is also believed to provide an opportunity for monitoring the disease.
In order to conduct the research, UCLan has collaborated with the country's University of Manchester and Lancaster University, as well as the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte in Brazil.
In the study, the organisations used a sensor-based technology with a diamond core to analyse around 550 blood samples.
The researchers passed light through the diamond to observe its interactions with the blood plasma and identified specific chemical bonds within the blood.
They used this biochemical data to evaluate the samples for any presence of neurodegenerative diseases and their type.
The accurate and cost-effective blood test is intended to provide a non-invasive alternative to existing brain scans, physical examinations and memory testing used for Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
UCLan Biosciences theme lead and the study's principal investigator professor Francis Martin said: “The ability to identify different neurodegenerative diseases through the analysis of blood offers a faster and accurate way of establishing the most effective treatment plan."
It is expected that the new method will also allow tests for identification and monitoring of early signs of mild cognitive impairment, enabling early intervention measures to slow disease progression.
Professor Martin further added: “For those suffering with Alzheimer’s disease, the damage is already well advanced once conventionally diagnosed, but this new method offers a potentially effective early screening tool when patients are only demonstrating signs of mild cognitive impairment.”