Discovery shines a light on potential cure for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's


November 4, 2013

According to researchers, a multi-photon laser technique can be used to detect protein aggregates that cause Alzheimer's and Parkinson's

According to researchers, a multi-photon laser technique can be used to detect protein aggregates that cause Alzheimer's and Parkinson's

It is generally believed that aggregations of proteins are responsible for brain disorders such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. However, the difficulty has been in detecting the aggregates responsible and removing them from the brain. Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden and Polish Wroclaw University of Technology have found a potential solution using lasers.

Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease are thought to be caused by aggregates of amyloid beta protein that start to inhibit proper cellular processes in the brain. Although it is technically possible to cure the diseases by detecting and removing the amyloid protein aggregates using chemicals, these chemicals are highly toxic and harmful to the patient.

The researchers discovered that by using a multi-photon laser technique, it is possible to distinguish between well-functioning proteins and the protein aggregates. The researchers are hopeful that once the malfunctioning proteins are detected, they can be removed using photo acoustic therapy, which is currently used in tomography.

Although different proteins create different kinds of amyloids, they generally have the same structure, which the researchers say is what makes it possible to differentiate them from healthy proteins using the multi-photon laser technique.

“Nobody has talked about using only light to treat these diseases until now," says Piotr Hanczyc at Chalmers University of Technology. "This is a totally new approach and we believe that this might become a breakthrough in the research of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. We have found a totally new way of discovering these structures using just laser light.”

The team's findings are published in the journal Nature Photonics.

Source: Chalmers Institute of Technology

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

sounds good; we just open up the skull and run a laser flashlight over the brain and close up. simple! oh yeah, so the lasers are x rays? otherwise how does light get past the first few cells?


It makes one wonder how the lasers are directed to and are able to penetrate the protein aggregates? Can lasers penetrate through the skull, and brain tissue, all without destroying other cells? I wish they'd hurry with a "cure" as I have 2 Alzheimers patients that I care for... God speed to those trying....


And when the aggregates return, because no cure was found?

Don Duncan

A perfect example of correlation misleading on causation. The plaques may be a side-effect, but have been found in healthy brains, where no one looks (often). Removing/blocking them has not been shown to have any benefit.


Brian Hall

I hope this is true!

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