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Can a nasal spray detect Alzheimer’s?

16 October 2012

Can a nasal spray detect Alzheimer’s?

A nanotechnology nasal spray is being developed which uses tiny magnetic particles in an attempt to detect the disease early and provide new answers for a cure.

The magnetic particles are fused to an antibody, which targets rogue molecules that are believed to play a part in the development of thecondition.  An MRI can detect the particles and molecules but so far, scientists have only tested the spray in a laboratory and not on people. If it can be shown to work on human patients it could be a major leap forward in managing Alzheimer’s.

It is believed that changes that lead to disease begin decades before any symptoms appear and by the time the patient is diagnosed it is already too far advanced.  This could be the reason treatment drugs have failed in the past.

Lead scientist Dr William Klein, from Northwestern University, Chicago, said, “We have created a probe that targets a unique marker of Alzheimer’s disease. This technology is a promising tool for early AD diagnosis and for evaluating the efficacy of investigational new drugs at early stages of the disease.”

The antibodies that have been developed target amyloid beta oligomers, small molecules that appear early in the disease and are thought to be responsible for initiating the memory loss associated with the condition.  Large areas of these proteins are a key feature in late stage Alzheimer’s and experiments have shown that the antibody can distinguish between healthy and diseased brain tissue.

Work is now going into incorporating the particles into a nasal spray.  Previous work has shown it is possible to deliver the antibodies, without the magnetic particles, through the noses of mice.