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KAIST develops method to diagnose Alzheimer's with single blood drop
  • By Lee Han-soo
  • Published 2020.01.16 17:42
  • Updated 2020.01.16 18:08
  • comments 0

Researchers at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have developed a sensor that can diagnose severe Alzheimer's disease with a drop of the patient's blood.

Professors Park Chan-bum (left) and Steve Park

Conventional diagnosis used positron emission tomography (PET) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment. However, both test methods are costly, raising the need for a diagnostic technology that is accurate and cheaper.

The team, led by Professors Park Chan-bum and Steve Park at the university, developed a high-density diagnostic sensor that aligns carbon nanotubes using Langmuir-Blodgett film technology.

Langmuir-Blodgett film technology is a technique for producing monolayers of nanoparticles floating on a solution in the desired arrangement by controlling surface pressure. At the same time, carbon nanotubes are cylindrical carbon materials with a diameter of about nanometers.

Alzheimer's disease is a neurodegenerative disease that causes dementia and is most common in older people. As of now, 10 percent of the world's population aged 65 or older suffers from this disease.

"The sensitivity of the analyte measurement can be increased by reducing the resistance to a minimum when aligning the tubes rather than a randomizing the tubes," the team said.

The researchers have confirmed that the developed sensor showed more than 100 times more sensitive than conventional carbon nanotube-based biosensors.

The sensor can simultaneously measure four concentrations of Alzheimer's disease -- beta-amyloid 42, beta-amyloid 40, total-tau protein, and hyperphosphorylated tau protein.

By using the developed sensor, the team compared the four biomarker concentrations by measuring the blood samples of Alzheimer's patients with healthy individuals. As a result, the team confirmed a sensitivity and specificity of 90 and 88.6 percent.

"The measuring method is simpler and cheaper to manufacture than conventional sensors," the team said.

Professor Park said, "This study included patients with severe illness who had confirmed Alzheimer's disease. The team requires cohort research support to test the diagnostic potential of patients with mild cognitive impairment, which is the precursor for dementia."


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