Doctors could soon have a definitive diagnostic test for Alzheimer's disease, thanks to some tiny but sophisticated sensors. These nanoscale particles isolate extremely small quantities of protein clumps associated with the neurodegenerative disease.
The researchers tested cerebrospinal fluid, which bathes the spinal cord and parts of the brain. They took samples from 15 people confirmed after death to have had the brain plaques characteristic of Alzheimer's disease and from 15 people who were free of the disease. The samples were collected from living people as well as from individuals who had died. With two exceptions, patients who might have been misdiagnosed, the nanoparticle test distinguished the two groups by detecting the prevalence of protein clumps called amyloid beta–diffusible ligands (ADDLs) in the Alzheimer's patients, the researchers say.