Researchers in the US have unveiled a study that monitored changes to specific cells in the retina could help diagnose and track the progression of Alzheimer's.
Genetically engineered mice were used in the study which looked at the thickness of the retina in an area that had not previously been investigated. This included the inner nuclear layer and the retinal ganglion cell layer.
The researchers found that a loss of thickness occurred only in mice with Alzheimer's. The retinal ganglion cell layer had almost halved in size and the inner nuclear layer had decreased by more than a third.
As the retina is a direct extension of the brain, the researchers say the loss of retinal neurons could be related to the loss of brain cells in Alzheimer's.
Scott Turner, Director of the Memory Disorders Programme at Georgetown University Medical Center, said: "This suggests a new path forward in understanding the disease process in humans and could lead to new ways to diagnose or predict Alzheimer's that could be as simple as looking into the eyes”.
As the study was in mice, further work will have to be undertaken to confirm whether the effects can be replicated in humans. If this is the case, it could potentially lead to increased accuracy in diagnosing Alzheimer’s, plus new treatments for glaucoma.
Original Source BBC News
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