A Simpler way to Diagnose Muscular Diseases

Published: 17th February 2015 06:03 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th February 2015 06:03 AM   |  A+A-

BENGALURU: Scientists from the IISc have shown for the first time that Raman Spectroscopy, a technique generally used to analyse the atomic structure of chemicals, can be used  to differentiate between various muscular diseases (myopathies).

In such cases, muscle fibres do not function optimally, resulting in weakness in the muscles.

The IISc paper recently appeared in Analytical Chemistry published by the American Chemical Society. Spectroscopy is the study of the interaction between matter and energy. When radiation falls on a particular material, the component atoms absorb parts of the radiation and reflect others, forming a unique pattern called the spectrum. This spectrum can be analysed to find the components of various materials. Raman spectroscopy is a type of spectroscopy that uses lasers. Laser light interacts with molecular vibrations in the system, and the information obtained can be used to identify the components of a sample and to quantify the relative amount of components, the researchers said in a press release.

The IISc scientists used Raman spectroscopy to classify different myopathies based on molecular changes on the commonly available fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.

Flies with two types of myopathy were used: nemaline myopathy and cardiomyopathy.

In humans, nemaline myopathy is a birth defect that results in weak leg and body muscles, while cardiomyopathy is a condition of abnormal heart muscles.Current Technique

At present, myopathy is diagnosed through biopsies that require a sample size of 1.5 cm x 0.5 cm, which take a long time to heal. Raman spectroscopy uses fibres that are just 0.5 mm long. According to the study, it can also detect early onset of myopathy, which can prove useful in starting early therapy. Prof Nongthomba said the scientists are exploring whether the technique can be used to study other human diseases, like neurodegenerative ones.

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