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New Non-invasive MRI Can Detect Early Stage Alzheimer’s

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Exciting news in Alzheimer’s research has recently come out of Northwestern University. A team of engineers has developed a non-invasive method to identify early-stage Alzheimer’s. Led by neuroscientist Dr. William L. Klein and material scientist Dr. Vinayak P. Dravid, the team reports that they can now detect signs of Alzheimer’s in mice using a non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

The technique uses an MRI probe that seeks out amyloid beta brain toxins, which are often responsible for the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The accumulated beta toxins are detected in the MRI and appear as dark clumps in the scan. Dr. Klein explains, “Using MRI, we can see the toxins attached to neurons in the brain. We expect to use this tool to detect the disease early and to help identify drugs that can effectively eliminate the toxin and improve health."

The Northwestern research team tested the technique on mice that did and did not have Alzheimer’s. The MRIs revealed that the mice with Alzheimer’s showed darker spots in the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with memory, than the mice without the disease. Researchers then replicated the test on human brain tissue, which produced similar results.

“Non-invasive imaging by MRI of amyloid beta oligomers is a giant step forward towards diagnosis of this debilitating disease in its earliest form. This MRI method could be used to determine how well a new drug is working,” shares Dr. Dravid. This new method is a promising step forward in Alzheimer’s researchers and will help doctors develop more effective treatments that could fight the disease during its earliest stages.


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