quarta-feira, 20 de setembro de 2017

Findings could lead to improved, non-addictive opioid drugs


Mount Sinai researchers have identified unique structural, biological and chemical insights in the way different opioid drugs activate the receptors and specific signaling pathways responsible for the drug's beneficial and adverse effects, according to a study to be published in Nature's Scientific Reports.
Opioid overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. The findings of this study may provide a blueprint for designing improved painkillers.

"These new insights will provide a roadmap to develop a new class of drugs that are non-addictive and less harmful for patients," said Marta Filizola, PhD, Professor of Pharmacological Science and Professor of Neuroscience, Dean of The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and lead investigator of the study. "These insights may help us engineer new painkillers with reduced side effects, particularly respiratory depression. An alternative, non-addictive medication for chronic pain will help us combat the ongoing national crisis of addiction to opioid drugs and the devastating overdose epidemic deriving from it."

There have been many attempts to develop better opioid drugs but this has been largely unsuccessful due to incomplete understanding of the molecular signatures underlying the analgesic effects as opposed to the unwanted side effects. Potent opioid drugs that are often tied to fatal overdoses (e.g., heroin, fentanyl, or carfentanil) work by binding to opioid receptors in the nervous system. These drugs also provoke dopamine release, which causes euphoria leading to addiction and inhibits nerve cells in a region of the brain that regulates breathing, which can lead to respiratory depression and accidental death by overdose.

The therapeutic effect of opioid drugs is mainly attributed to mu-opioid receptor (MOR) activation leading to G protein signaling, meaning that the drug binds to the MOR receptor and causes a change in its molecular structure, which then activates a protein called the G protein. However, the drug's side effects have mostly been linked to a different process known as ?-arrestin signaling, which plays a role in the regulation of these receptors. To shed light on this, the researchers carried out molecular dynamics simulations in mouse models of MOR bound to a classical opioid drug (morphine) or a potent G protein-biased agonist (TRV-130) that is currently being evaluated in human clinical trials for its potent analgesic effect with less respiratory depression and constipation than morphine.
The results of rigorous machine learning analyses of these simulations revealed unique structural, dynamic, and kinetic insights that have a direct utilization in the design of improved therapeutics targeting MOR.

terça-feira, 19 de setembro de 2017

Asthma symptoms can be improved by diet and exercise in non-obese patients


Non-obese people with asthma could reduce their symptoms and improve their quality of life through diet and exercise, according to research presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress 2017.
Asthma is a common and long-term condition affecting around one in ten people in the western world. The majority of patients rely on daily medicine to control symptoms and many are wary of exercise, fearing that it could induce symptoms.

However, the new research suggests that taking exercise, combined with a healthy diet, could help patients gain better control of symptoms such as wheezing, chest pain and shortness of breath.
The research was presented by Dr Louise Lindhardt Toennesen (MD, PhD) from Bispebjerg University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark. She told the congress: "There is increasing evidence that asthma patients who are obese can benefit from a better diet and increased exercise. We wanted to see if non-obese patients with asthma could also benefit."

Dr Toennesen and her colleagues worked with a group of 149 patients who were randomly assigned to one of four groups.
One group were asked to follow a diet that was high in protein and with a low glycaemic index (low GI). A low GI diet is one that maintains the right levels of sugar in the blood. They were also asked to eat at least six portions of fruit and vegetables per day.

Another group took part in exercise classes three times a week at hospital. These classes included bursts of high intensity activity designed to raise the heartrate, interspersed with more gentle activity.
The third group took part in the exercise classes and followed the diet, while the remaining control group did neither. A total of 125 people remained in the study for the full eight weeks.

Researchers questioned patients about their symptoms and about their quality of life, as well as testing their fitness, and the strength and output of their lungs.
They found that the high intensity training was safe for patients. Although they did not find definite improvement in patients' lung function, they did find that the combination of diet and exercise improved both symptom control and patients' quality of life, as well as improving their level of fitness.

On average, those who took part in the exercise and followed the diet rated their asthma symptom score 50% better compared to the control group.
Those patients who only followed either the exercise programme or the diet programme on average rated their asthma symptom score 30% better compared to the control group, but this result did not reach statistical significance.

Dr Toennesen explained: "People with asthma sometimes find exercise challenging and this can lead to an overall deterioration in their fitness. Our study suggests that non-obese asthma patients can safely take part in well-planned, high-intensity exercise. It also shows that exercise combined with a healthy diet can help patients control their asthma symptoms and enjoy a better quality of life.

"These are important findings since we know that not all patients have good control over their symptoms and consequently can have a lower quality of life. We also know that many patients are interested in whether they can improve their asthma control with exercise and a healthy diet.
"Our research suggests that people with asthma should be encouraged to eat a healthy diet and to take part in physical activity."
Dr Toennesen and her colleagues will continue to investigate the effects of diet and exercise on asthma in the longer term. They hope to discover which diet and which activities have the biggest impact, to find out if some patients can benefit more than others, and, ultimately, if lifestyle changes can replace asthma prevention medicine.
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Materials provided by European Lung FoundationNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

41 States To Investigate Pharmaceutical Companies Over Opioids : The Two-Way : NPR



The attorneys general of 41 U.S. states said Tuesday they're banding together to investigate the makers and distributors of powerful opioid painkillers that have, over the last decade, led to a spike in opiate addictions and overdose deaths.
The coalition issued subpoenas seeking information from opioid manufacturers Endo International, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceuticals (Cephalon), and Allergan, as well as additional subpoenas to Purdue Pharma. In addition, the group is demanding documents from distribution companies AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson.

"Our subpoenas and letters seek to uncover whether or not there was deception involved, if manufacturers misled doctors and patients about the efficacy and addictive power of these drugs," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said during his press conference announcing the investigation. "We will examine their marketing practices both to the medical community and the public."

The pharmaceutical industry already faces dozens of lawsuitsbrought by cities, counties, and states — including Ohio, Missouri and Oklahoma. Some are trying to recoup the costs incurred from the surge in emergency response from spikes in opioid-related overdoses. The strategy is reminiscent of the successful litigation brought by states and municipalities three decades ago against tobacco companies.

The opioid drug industry expanded in the 1990s, in response to the medical community's push to better treat pain and chronic pain.
As Schneiderman noted, millions of opioid users became addicted to opioids, or heroin, after being prescribed the medication by doctors.
Many doctors, in turn, said they were assured by the drug makers that the opioids were less addictive, or not addictive.

"My investigations have shown that drug companies pressure physicians into prescribing powerful, addictive drugs without regard for the law or patients' well-being," said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who is also party to the new investigation.
Now, the state prosecutors say they will examine whether the industry was complicit in creating the epidemic, and whether it should now be responsible for helping pay for the damage caused to many communities.
The companies being investigated did not immediately issue statements and industry lobbying group PhRMA didn't respond to a request for comment.

The number of opioid prescriptions has declined in recent years, after federal regulators placed new limits on the drugs. That reduced the amount of opioids prescribed by 18 percent in 2015, from a peak in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Still, as the state attorneys general and other community leaders note, the slowdown in prescriptions has been offset by greater demand for cheaper alternatives such as heroin.
"For millions of UStaters, their personal battle with opioid addiction did not start in a back alley with a tourniquet and syringe," Schneiderman said. "They got hooked on medicine they were prescribed for pain or that they found in a medicine cabinet."
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Your immune system


Type 2 diabetes is a reversible condition


A body of research putting people with Type 2 diabetes on a low calorie diet has confirmed the underlying causes of the condition and established that it is reversible.
Professor Roy Taylor at Newcastle University, UK has spent almost four decades studying the condition and will present an overview of his findings at the European Association For The Study Of Diabetes (EASD 2017) in Lisbon.
In the talk he will be highlighting how his research has revealed that for people with Type 2 diabetes:
  • Excess calories leads to excess fat in the liver
  • As a result, the liver responds poorly to insulin and produces too much glucose
  • Excess fat in the liver is passed on to the pancreas, causing the insulin producing cells to fail
  • Losing less than 1 gram of fat from the pancreas through diet can re-start the normal production of insulin, reversing Type 2 diabetes
  • This reversal of diabetes remains possible for at least 10 years after the onset of the condition
"I think the real importance of this work is for the patients themselves," Professor Taylor says. "Many have described to me how embarking on the low calorie diet has been the only option to prevent what they thought -- or had been told -- was an inevitable decline into further medication and further ill health because of their diabetes. By studying the underlying mechanisms we have been able to demonstrate the simplicity of type 2 diabetes."

Get rid of the fat and reverse Type 2 diabetes
The body of research by Professor Roy Taylor now confirms his Twin Cycle Hypothesis -- that Type 2 diabetes is caused by excess fat actually within both liver and pancreas.
This causes the liver to respond poorly to insulin. As insulin controls the normal process of making glucose, the liver then produces too much glucose. Simultaneously, excess fat in the liver increases the normal process of export of fat to all tissues. In the pancreas, this excess fat causes the insulin producing cells to fail.
The Counterpoint study which was published in 2011, confirmed that if excess food intake was sharply decreased through a very low calorie diet, all these abnormal factors would be reversed.

The study showed a profound fall in liver fat content resulting in normalisation of hepatic insulin sensitivity within 7 days of starting a very low calorie diet in people with type 2 diabetes. Fasting plasma glucose became normal in 7 days. Over 8 weeks, the raised pancreas fat content fell and normal first phase insulin secretion became re-established, with normal plasma glucose control.
Keep the weight off and keep the diabetes at bay

"The good news for people with Type 2 diabetes is that our work shows that even if you have had the condition for 10 years, you are likely to be able to reverse it by moving that all important tiny amount of fat out of the pancreas. At present, this can only be done through substantial weight loss," Professor Taylor adds.
The Counterbalance study published in 2016, demonstrated that Type 2 diabetes remains reversible for up to 10 years in most people, and also that the normal metabolism persists long term, as long as the person doesn't regain the weight.

Professor Taylor explained the science behind the mechanisms: "Work in the lab has shown that the excess fat in the insulin producing cell causes loss of specialised function. The cells go into a survival mode, merely existing and not contributing to whole body wellbeing. Removal of the excess fat allows resumption of the specialised function of producing insulin. The observations of the clinical studies can now be fully explained."

He added: "Surprisingly, it was observed that the diet devised as an experimental tool was actually liked by research participants. It was associated with no hunger and no tiredness in most people, but with rapidly increased wellbeing. The 'One, Two' approach used in the Counterbalance study was a defined two phase programme. The Phase 1 is the period of weight loss -- calorie restriction without additional exercise. A carefully planned transition period leads to Phase 2 -- long term supported weight maintenance by modest calorie restriction with increased daily physical activity."

This approach consistently brings about 15kg of weight loss on average.
After the details were posted on the Newcastle University, UK website, this has been applied clinically and people who were highly motivated have reported that they have reversed their type 2 diabetes and continued to have normal glucose levels (normoglycaemic) over years.

A further study in general practice, the Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT) funded by Diabetes UK is now underway to determine the applicability of this general approach to routine Primary Care practice with findings due before the end of the year.
Patients or GPs who would like more information about the diet that reverses Type 2 diabetes see the Magnetic Resonance Centre website.
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Materials provided by Newcastle UniversityNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Cells programmed like computers to fight disease


Led by Professor Alfonso Jaramillo in the School of Life Sciences, new research has discovered that a common molecule -- ribonucleic acid (RNA), which is produced abundantly by humans, plants and animals -- can be genetically engineered to allow scientists to program the actions of a cell.
As well as fighting disease and injury in humans, scientists could harness this technique to control plant cells and reverse environmental and agricultural issues, making plants more resilient to disease and pests.

RNAs carry information between protein and DNA in cells, and Professor Jaramillo has proved that these molecules can be produced and organised into tailor-made sequences of commands -- similar to codes for computer software -- which feed specific instructions into cells, programming them to do what we want.
Much like a classic Turing computer system, cells have the capacity to process and respond to instructions and codes inputted into their main system, argues Professor Jaramillo.

Similar to software running on a computer, or apps on a mobile device, many different RNA sequences could be created to empower cells with a 'Virtual Machine', able to interpret a universal RNA language, and to perform specific actions to address different diseases or problems.
This will allow a novel type of personalised and efficient healthcare, allowing us to 'download' a sequence of actions into cells, instructing them to execute complex decisions encoded in the RNA.

The researchers made their invention by first modelling all possible RNA sequence interactions on a computer, and then constructing the DNA encoding the optimal RNA designs, to be validated on bacteria cells in the laboratory.
After inducing the bacterial cells to produce the genetically engineered RNA sequences, the researchers observed that they had altered the gene expression of the cells according to the RNA program -- demonstrating that cells can be programmed with pre-defined RNA commands, in the manner of a computer's microprocessor.

Professor Alfonso Jaramillo, who is part of the Warwick Integrative Synthetic Biology Centre, commented:
"The capabilities of RNA molecules to interact in a predictable manner, and with alternative conformations, has allowed us to engineer networks of molecular switches that could be made to process arbitrary orders encoded in RNA.
"Throughout the last year, my group has been developing methodologies to enable RNA sensing the environment, perform arithmetic computations and control gene expression without relying on proteins, which makes the system universal across all living kingdoms.
"The cells could read the RNA 'software' to perform the encoded tasks, which could make the cells detect abnormal states, infections, or trigger developmental programs."

Eggs Every Day For Breakfast: I Tried It And This Is What Happened


eggs in skillet

Alex Hayden/ Getty
Why eggs? They’re the perfect little package. Not only are they protein-rich (about 7 grams each), but eggs—specifically the yolks—contain inflammation-fighting omega-3s; vitamins D, E, and B12; and minerals like selenium. Plus, just two eggs a day fulfills half of your daily needs for the memory boosting nutrient choline, which, per recent studies most Americans severely lack.  
And for the low cost of a dozen local organic eggs—$5 or less—there was no excuse not to make the switch. Here's what I learned when I did.
(Hit the reset button—and burn fat like crazy with The Body Clock Diet!)

Eggs Have A Lot Of Haters But They’re Wrong

I knew I was going to get some hate from people claiming that all that cholesterol would lead to my premature demise. But, to be honest, I think that’s kind of a load of crap. Nutrition science has come a long way since the heyday of egg white omelets, and much of the traditional advice about saturated fat and cholesterol wasn’t based upon good science to begin with. 
Plus, while the American Heart Association used to recommend consuming no more than 300 mg of dietary cholesterol a day, they recently decided there’s not enough scientific evidence to stand by that suggestion. Experts now say that, yes, there's cholesterol in eggs, but, contrary to what we've previously been told, dietary cholesterol doesn't seem to have much effect on blood cholesterol, the type that actually clogs your arteries, for the average person.
Still, nutritionists emphasize that how many eggs you can safely eat per week largely depends on how the rest of your diet looks, which makes it a pretty personal (and variable) recommendation. But since I’m active (I walk my dog 4 miles a day), healthy, and eat a balanced, veggie-rich diet, I felt pretty great about adding 3 organic eggs to the mix, especially to my protein- and fat-deficient mornings.

Related: 'How Many Eggs Is It Actually Safe To Eat Per Week?'

I Found Super Quick Ways To Get Creative

As you can imagine, plain ol’ eggs, while tasty, can get boring after a few days. So I decided to jazz things up. My one requirement: This jazzing could only add a minute or two to my breakfast making routine and had to add some legitimate nutrition to my meal. Enter: organic frozen veggies. I’ve had a few bags of these suckers sitting in my freezer for months, so I decided to add them to the skillet with a little butter before dropping my eggs. The verdict: peas and corn added some fun texture and subtle sweetness while ramping up the fiber content. The next day, I did this same combo plus some perfectly ripe avocado and cilantro on top, which was delicious; and the day after that, I added some almost-too-old-to-eat kale to the mix, which was significantly less delicious, but you live and you learn.
Learn how to poach an egg perfectly every time:

I Could Make Scrambled Eggs In Under 4 Minutes

There’s literally no excuse to not eat breakfast—here’s how I know. On day two of my experiment, I was walking out the door, already late for work, when I realized, “Sh*t, I didn’t make my eggs!” So I turned around, put on the skillet, added butter, and cracked in three eggs, scrambling them right in the pan with a fork—no pre-whisking, no adding a splash of milk, no fancy anything. I finished them with some salt and pepper, and guess what? They were great! Just like normal scrambled eggs, but they were done in the amount of time it would have taken to make a disgusting instant oatmeal packet, which makes me wonder why I’d ever wasted time on those unnecessary steps before. We’ve been living a lie, people.

Since my normal apple or banana breakfast before this little experiment (eggsperiment?) had pretty much zero protein (or maybe a whopping 7 grams if I added peanut butter), it wasn't really surprising that I was ravenous by 10am. With my new 3-egg routine, though, I was consuming at least 21 grams of protein every morning, and I was able to keep the hangry monster in my stomach quiet until around 11:30am or 12pm. This did wonders for my ability to focus and get things done since I wasn’t constantly preoccupied with what I’d eat next, or refilling my mug of coffee.  

Related: What One Nutritionist Ate For An Entire Week (In Pictures)

The Routine Was Both Comforting And Relaxing

Making a commitment to one type of breakfast every single day, especially one that requires cooking, might seem like it would be boring or a bit of a pain. But over time, I can honestly say that I found the consistency to be comforting. Not having to wonder what to make for breakfast—or if I’d eat breakfast at all—streamlined my mornings and eliminated any food guilt I’d experienced before. Plus, I was pretty much forced to sit down for at least 10 minutes each morning and eat (believe me, I’ve tried eggs in the car and it doesn’t work), which gave me a moment to relax and mentally prepare myself for the day ahead. 
So yes, I’m probably going to keep up my new habit of eating eggs most mornings. Unless, of course, new research reveals that chocolate frosted donuts are the key to longevity. Then I’ll have to eat those. For science.

domingo, 17 de setembro de 2017

Brain Imaging Reveals Why Cocaine Habits Are So Hard to Break


Persons addicted to cocaine often find that the drug is much less enjoyable after years of use, yet they have great difficulty quitting. A new brain imaging study shows why this may be so and also why extinction-based therapy may not be effective for cocaine users.
The study, led by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, found that in long-term cocaine users, there is global impairment in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC), an area of the brain that is linked to impulse and self-control.

"Our study data suggest that it will be hard for long-time cocaine users to unlearn what once was a positive experience if this 'unlearning' or new learning relies on this brain region to be effective," lead investigator Anna Konova, PhD, who worked on the study while at the Icahn School of Medicine but is now a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Neural Science at New York University, said in a news release.

"There is a strong impetus for extinction-based therapy in addiction, but our findings highlight potential limitations of these existing therapies in their reliance on the VMPFC to achieve therapeutic benefits," senior investigator Rita Z. Goldstein, PhD, director of Mount Sinai's Neuropsychoimaging of Addiction and Related Conditions Program, added.

The study was published online September 5 in Addiction Biology.
Using fMRI and a three-phase classical conditioning paradigm, the researchers examined neural correlates of extinction learning for drug and pleasant cue associations and the role of the VMPFC in 18 non-treatment-seeking, long-term cocaine users and 15 sociodemographically matched healthy individuals who did not use drugs. Extinction learning is a process by which a new, affectively neutral association replaces an old, affectively arousing association.

They observed that the long-term cocaine users had trouble forming and maintaining new associations for stimuli that were previously, although no longer, predictive of both drug-related and non-drug-related outcomes and that this impairment was mediated by the VMPFC.

The VMPFC signals in the cocaine-using group did not resemble those of the control group. Extinction learning did not engage the VMPFC to the same degree, which could result in failure in extinction learning, the researchers say.
"Our view on this is that extinction-based therapy is unlikely to be effective in cocaine addiction as administered in isolation or in its more traditional form," the investigators told Medscape Medical News. "This stems from our data showing a deficit in the neural circuitry that supports this type of learning. Furthermore, we observed this deficit in two contexts, drug-related and not, suggesting it's not likely to work in most conditions.

"We do, however, believe that if extinction-based therapy is combined with other treatments or with cognitive enhancers, it could have utility in cocaine addiction. In addition, modified forms of the therapy that harness the science behind more robust extinction methods may also prove useful. More research is clearly needed to test these additional approaches," they concluded.
The study was supported by the National Institute of Drug Abuse. The authors report no relevant financial relationships.
Addiction Biol. Published online September 5, 2017. Abstract
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Health risks of natural origin are frequently underestimated


Just under 60 percent of the German population view undesirable substances in food as a high or very high health risk. The most well-known of these substances, which are scientifically denoted as contaminants, are mercury compounds and dioxins. In contrast, only around 13 percent of respondents have heard of the natural contaminants pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) in honey or tea -- and only roughly one in three of those who have heard of PAs believe these substances pose a significant health risk.

These are the findings of a representative study recently conducted by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) on the risk perception of contaminants in food that was published in the public health journal Bundesgesundheitsblatt -- Gesundheitsforschung -- Gesundheitsschutz. "People feel most at risk from synthetic substances and heavy metals," says BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel. "Appropriate risk communication on contaminants should take this subjective risk perception into account."

Contaminants are undesirable substances that unintentionally find their way into food products. They can occur naturally in the environment and in the processing of raw materials into food products or can be released into the environment through human activity and thereby enter the food chain. Contaminants are undesirable because they can impair health under certain circumstances.
1,001 people were asked about contaminants in food in the representative population survey using computer-assisted telephone interviews. The most well-known contaminants in food are mercury in fish and dioxin in eggs or milk (with scores of 78% and 70%, respectively). In contrast, pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) in tea or honey (13%) and arsenic in rice and rice products (26%) as relatively new consumer protection topics are only known to a minority of respondents. Only 36% and 57% of those who have heard of PAs or arsenic see these substances as posing a significant risk to health.

General attitudes towards contaminants in food and the assessment of potential health risks also differ by population group. Compared to women, for example, men see the risks of undesirable substances in barbecued meat as being lower. Men tend to spend less time in general than female respondents thinking about the issue of undesirable substances in food. Younger people feel less well informed about undesirable substances in food than their older counterparts: some 41% of 14 to 29 year-olds say they are poorly or very poorly informed about undesirable substances in food compared to 15% of those above the age of 60. And it is particularly those respondents who are relatively well informed who would like additional information on possible protective measures, legal regulations and affected product groups. When it comes to communicating health risks, the main challenge is therefore to raise awareness levels for this topic among the less well-informed population groups.
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Materials provided by BfR Federal Institute for Risk AssessmentNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Noninvasive eye scan could detect key signs of Alzheimer's disease years ago


Cedars-Sinai neuroscience investigators have found that Alzheimer's disease affects the retina -- the back of the eye -- similarly to the way it affects the brain. The study also revealed that an investigational, noninvasive eye scan could detect the key signs of Alzheimer's disease years before patients experience symptoms.
Using a high-definition eye scan developed especially for the study, researchers detected the crucial warning signs of Alzheimer's disease: amyloid-beta deposits, a buildup of toxic proteins. The findings represent a major advancement toward identifying people at high risk for the debilitating condition years sooner.

The study, published in JCI Insight, comes amid a sharp rise in the number of people affected by the disease. Today, more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease. That number is expected to triple by 2050, according to the Alzheimer's Association.
"The findings suggest that the retina may serve as a reliable source for Alzheimer's disease diagnosis," said the study's senior lead author, Maya Koronyo-Hamaoui, PhD, a principal investigator and associate professor in the departments of Neurosurgery and Biomedical Sciences at Cedars-Sinai.

"One of the major advantages of analyzing the retina is the repeatability, which allows us to monitor patients and potentially the progression of their disease."
Yosef Koronyo, MSc, a research associate in the Department of Neurosurgery and first author on the study, said another key finding from the new study was the discovery of amyloid plaques in previously overlooked peripheral regions of the retina. He noted that the plaque amount in the retina correlated with plaque amount in specific areas of the brain.

"Now we know exactly where to look to find the signs of Alzheimer's disease as early as possible," said Koronyo.
Keith L. Black, MD, chair of Cedars-Sinai's Department of Neurosurgery and director of the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute, who co-led the study, said the findings offer hope for early detection when intervention could be most effective.

"Our hope is that eventually the investigational eye scan will be used as a screening device to detect the disease early enough to intervene and change the course of the disorder with medications and lifestyle changes," said Black.
For decades, the only way to officially diagnose the debilitating condition was to survey and analyze a patient's brain after the patient died. In recent years, physicians have relied on positron emission tomography (PET) scans of the brains of living people to provide evidence of the disease but the technology is expensive and invasive, requiring the patient to be injected with radioactive tracers.
In an effort to find a more cost-effective and less invasive technique, the Cedars-Sinai research team collaborated with investigators at NeuroVision Imaging, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, University of Southern California, and UCLA to translate their noninvasive eye screening approach to humans.

The published results are based on a clinical trial conducted on 16 Alzheimer's disease patients who drank a solution that includes curcumin, a natural component of the spice turmeric. The curcumin causes amyloid plaque in the retina to "light up" and be detected by the scan. The patients were then compared to a group of younger, cognitively normal individuals.
Koronyo-Hamaoui and Koronyo also were key authors of the original results, published in the journal Neuroimage in 2011 and first presented at the Alzheimer's Association's International Conference in 2010.