A team of scientists and engineers at Northwestern University has for the first time used a non-invasive MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) approach to detect Alzheimer's disease before symptoms occur.
The results of their study, published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, details their development of an MRI probe that pairs a magnetic nanostructure with an antibody that seeks out amyloid beta brain toxins. On an MRI scan, the accumulation of these toxins appear as dark areas.
Instead of detecting amyloid plaques, which is the case with conventional technology, the new MRI probe can detect the toxins before they lead to the formation of these plaques.
"Using MRI, we can see the toxins attached to neurons in the brain," said William L.Klein, a neuroscientist and leader of the team, in a press release. "We expect to use this tool to detect this disease early and to help identify drugs that can effectively eliminate the toxin and improve health."