Discovery shines a light on potential cure for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's
By Darren Quick
November 4, 2013
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