SACRAMENTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Researchers in Perth are trialling a NeuroVision eye test as a screening tool for Alzheimer’s disease. Professor Yogi Kanagasingam, a world leader in ocular imaging in CSIRO’s Preventative Health Flagship said, “If this test works, then one day screening for Alzheimer’s disease may be as simple as getting your eyes checked”. The trial is a collaboration between CSIRO, Edith Cowan University, McCusker Alzheimer’s Research Foundation and California-based NeuroVision Imaging. Professor Ralph Martins, a pioneer in Alzheimer’s disease research, is a co-lead on the research which is being conducted at the McCusker Alzheimer’s Research Foundation in Perth, Western Australia. The project is part of the Australian Imaging and Biomarkers Lifestyle Study of Aging (AIBL), which has 1000 volunteers who are making a valuable contribution to Alzheimer’s research.
The goal of the trial is to see if the NeuroVision test can detect people on the pathway to Alzheimer’s disease. Dr Lance Macaulay, Theme Leader for Brain Health in CSIRO’s Preventative Health Flagship, said, “Recent research with our AIBL partners shows that Alzheimer’s disease develops slowly. Clinically, it is only possible to detect the disease late in its development, when significant brain damage has already occurred. Using brain PET imaging, we can show the build-up of the amyloid-beta protein as plaques in the brain, 17 years before symptoms appear. With NeuroVision, we hope to be able to pick up these same changes in the retina of the eye, through a non-invasive and inexpensive test. The ability to detect disease early will markedly increase eligibility and opportunities for new drug intervention trials, aimed at preventing or delaying disease onset and accelerating the development of these new treatments. To do this, we need a test that is suitable for screening large numbers of people and identifying those who have early biochemical markers of Alzheimer’s disease. We see the eye test as a potential initial screen that could compliment currently used brain PET, MRI imaging and clinical psychometric tests. It could be delivered as part of people’s regular eye check-ups“.
The trial involves two visits by volunteers to the McCusker Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, where they will have their eyes tested using retinal image fluorescence photography. Between appointments, volunteers take a curcumin supplement. Curcumin is a natural ingredient used in cooking, it gives the spice turmeric its fluorescent yellow colour. We use curcumin to light up the amyloid-beta plaques in people’s retinas. If what we see in the eye tests correlates with what is occurring in their brains, then we will have the makings of a screening tool for Alzheimer’s. It may enable us to identify people very early in the development of the disease, which could enhance our ability to intervene and stop or delay Alzheimer’s progression. Steven Verdooner, CEO of NeuroVision Imaging said, “We are very excited about partnering with CSIRO, the McCusker Alzheimer’s Research Foundation and Edith Cowan University. We believe this collaboration has the potential to yield a rich data set that will be vitally important in the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease.” If you are interested in taking part in this study, please see further information in the ‘About AIBL’ section.
About NeuroVision Imaging, LLC
NeuroVision Imaging, LLC (www.neurovision.com) was formed in 2010 and is headquartered in Sacramento, California. The Company develops digital imaging, and diagnostic solutions for Alzheimer’s disease (“AD”) and eye care markets. In a study published in NeuroImage by members of NVI’s founding team (under the direction of Dr. Keith Black at the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Research Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles), noninvasive retinal imaging was validated in transgenic mouse models and human cadaver studies for the early detection of amyloid beta plaque in the retina. NVI is building upon this research and has developed a proprietary test that utilizes a retinal imaging system and also a proprietary high-bioavailability curcumin formulation. Commercialization plans include establishment of a simple eye test as a standard of care for noninvasive high-resolution optical imaging for early AD diagnosis, prognosis assessment and response to therapies. Dr. Keith Black, the Company’s chairman and co-founder, is an internationally recognized neurosurgeon, researcher and thought-leader in areas of brain & blood-brain barrier function, enhancing the therapeutic effects of treatments in the brain, and optical imaging of the brain. He is the Chair of Cedars-Sinai’s Department of Neurosurgery. Steven R. Verdooner, NVI’s CEO as well as a Company director, is an experienced medtech industry veteran who has successfully developed commercialized and marketed ophthalmological imaging and measurement systems for other diagnostic applications.
CSIRO in collaboration with Austin Health, Edith Cowan University, The Florey Institute of Neurosciences and Mental Health and the National Aging Research Institute are undertaking a longitudinal study known as the Australian Imaging and Biomarkers Lifestyle Study of Aging (AIBL). www.aibl.csiro.au/about/recruitment
The goals of the study are to discover which biomarkers, cognitive characteristics, and health and lifestyle factors determine subsequent development of symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease. The AIBL study is supported by the Science and Industry Endowment Fund. www.sief.org.au.
If you live in Perth or Melbourne and would like more information about participating in the AIBL study, please contact: Perth-Belinda Brown (08) 6304 3961; Melbourne -Stacey Walker (03) 9389 2930 or resister your interest at www.brainpet.org.