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The eyes have it: Diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease with an eye test, before symptoms appear
A research project being conducted in Melbourne is entering the trial phase of a non-invasive, cost-effective eye test to detect early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. The project has received $600,000 in funding from a major coalition of American philanthropists known as the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, which includes the likes of Bill Gates and MacKenzie Bezos.
Researchers from the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) will fast track the development of the test and start clinical trials in August. The world-first eye scan trial will use coloured light to look through the retina for abnormal proteins that build up in the brain. The technology is similar to that used in NASA satellites.
The camera technology developed by Associate Professor Peter van Wijngaarden and Dr Xavier Hadoux, from CERA and the University of Melbourne, will measure the amyloid beta in the retina many years before symptoms of the disease appear.
Associate Professor van Wijngaarden said the approach had the potential to revolutionise the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
The current testing to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease is expensive and invasive, and the costs and limited availability of the tests render them out of reach for most healthcare systems. The innovative eye test could accelerate efforts to delay, prevent or even cure the disease, as it has the potential to enable scientists to take a more targeted approach to testing new drugs and treatments for those with a higher risk of diagnosis.
The test is being offered to middle-aged adult volunteers in Melbourne who have a history of Alzheimer’s disease. If you are interested in volunteering you can find more information on the Healthy Brain Project website or by emailing [email protected]