U of M research finds non-invasive technique for early detection of Alzheimer's in animals

Thursday, June 23, 2016

For the first time, technology designed to detect retinal changes linked to early Alzheimer’s disease is proven effective in live animals. The study paves the way for a human trial with the technology.

The study, conducted by researchers in the University of Minnesota Center for Drug Design, and published in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, explored the use of a camera to non-invasively study the retina and detect any signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers were able to visualize clear patterns of changes suggesting the eventual development of the disease.

“Using currently available detection methods, you have to wait until the plaque is formed to identify Alzheimer’s disease,” said Robert Vince, Ph.D., director of the Center for Drug Design. “This technology is a non-invasive way to identify Alzheimer’s disease before plaque is formed.”

Researchers hope the device will be able to detect early signs of Alzheimer’s in humans. The technology will be entering a Phase I trial in humans aiming to detect changes in patients with Alzheimer’s compared to healthy volunteers.

“We are very excited about moving this study into Phase I human trials,” said Swati More, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Center for Drug Design. “We have had great success with animal models and believe the technology is very promising for humans as well.”

The Center partnered with James Beach, Ph.D., from CytoViva, Inc. in Auburn, Alabama, to create the device. Trials are expected to begin in July, 2016. For more information on participating in this trial, please visit the trial website.