BENGALURU: Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have developed a probe to detect Alzheimer’s at an early stage. They found that early stages of Alzheimer’s cause an imbalance in the enzyme Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) present in muscle and nerve fibres. This serves as a potential way to detect the disease at an early stage, without having to use the common, costly detection techniques like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) scans or computed tomography (CT) scans.
The researchers developed a type of probe which turns fluorescent when put in contact with the enzyme, allowing researchers to detect an imbalance in the enzyme. This probe can be easily synthesised into a simple detection kit, which can possibly enable on-site Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
“Our goal was to find a reliable, cost-effective solution. The probes are not fluorescent by themselves, but they become fluorescent upon reaction with a target enzyme,” said Debasis Das, Assistant Professor, Department of Inorganic and Physical Chemistry (IPC), IISc.
As the probe is still in the proof-of-concept stage, it cannot be tested on humans. However, they have found that the probe can also help detect pesticide-related poisoning, which also causes an imbalance in AChE enzymes.
According to a study conducted by Alzheimer’s Association, the prevalence of the disease in Indians over the age of 60 was 7.4 per cent, which means 8.8 million people live with Alzheimer’s in the country.