After many years of investigation, researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles (USA) and NeuroVision Inc., have presented a new diagnostic system that detects in the eye (retina) a protein responsible for Alzheimer’s disease.

To date, the accumulation of beta-amyloid proteins – neurotoxic proteins partly responsible for Alzheimer’s disease – can be detected by Positron Emission Tomography (PET) or cerebrospinal fluid analysis, but these analyses are invasive and expensive.

The new diagnostic system detects beta-amyloid protein accumulations through the use of ocular images, a non-invasive method.

The researchers conducted a clinical trial with 16 patients and were able to identify by autofluorescence the protein in the retina of the participants.

The authors demonstrated that Longvida®, the formulation of Optim Curcuma, increases free curcumin in blood and that free curcumin crosses the blood-brain and the blood-retinal barriers.

Free curcumin has the property to bind to beta-amyloid protein plaques. This curcumin-amyloid protein complex is fluorochrome, i.e. it naturally generates fluorescent signals. These fluorescent signals can thus be captured by an imaging device and the level of plaques in the retina can be measured.

The researchers found that patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease had 4.7 times more plaques of beta-amyloid protein in the retina than the control group without the disease.

This new method makes the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease much simpler and is non-invasive. Therefore, it can help physicians and patients to detect earlier the progression of the disease well before the obvious symptoms of cognitive deterioration.

Koronyo Y, Biggs D, Barron E, Boyer DS, Pearlman JA, Au WJ, Kile SJ, Blanco A, Fuchs DT, Ashfaq A, Frautschy S, Cole GM, Miller CA, Hinton DR, Verdooner SR, Black KL, Koronyo-Hamaoui M. Retinal amyloid pathology and proof-of-concept imaging trial in Alzheimer’s disease. JCI Insight. 2017 Aug 17;2(16). pii: 93621.