DARC technology. Detection of Apoptosing Retinal Cells relies finding nerve cell death in the retina. It means nerve cells are dying in the brain too. People at high risk of Alzheimer’s disease may benefit. Leading neurodegeneration and eye disease expert, Dr. Francesca Cordeiro.
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The eyes are the window into the brain. It’s clear that diagnosing Alzheimer’s eye disease reasonably early would make a very big difference. Dr. Anton Titov, MD. You developed a particular eye diagnostic test. it can be used to potentially pinpoint patients at higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease. You can diagnose a subclinical state of Alzheimer’s disease. You can diagnose it up to 20 years before the clinical manifestations of dementia develop. Dr. Anton Titov, MD. Could you please discuss the eye test for Alzheimer’s disease that you developed? Dr. Francesca Cordeiro, MD. Sure! This is the DARC technology, Detection of Apoptosing Retinal Cells. It relies on the fact that you get cell death in the retina mimicking neuron cell death in the brain. At the moment we haven’t done patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Our Phase 2 clinical trial is starting here next month. It does contain a group of patients who are at high risk of Alzheimer’s disease. They will be having this diagnostic test for glaucoma and Alzheimer’s disease. These patients have Down’s syndrome. In Down syndrome there is an extra chromosome. What’s believed to happen is this. As Down’s patients are living longer, it is known that they have a lot of beta amyloid protein. Beta amyloid protein is implicated in the plaques in the brain in Alzheimer’s eye disease. They over-express this beta amyloid. So there’s a very high rate of dementia in Down’s syndrome patients. We are going to look at this sample of patients. Dr. Francesca Cordeiro, MD. We will use DARC. DARC basically involves an injection into the arm of special dye. Then we take photographs of the back of the patient’s eye. It is very similar to machines that you see being used to examine your eye. This is done when you go to optometrists and opticians. The importance of that is these are fairly cheap machines to examine an eye. You compare it to an MRI or a PET scanner. But they allow you to diagnose abnormality. Because the dye that is injected into your arm is a fluorescent dye. It identifies those nerve retina cells that are dying through apoptosis. We do know that from all our experimental data or the medical literature. Dr. Anton Titov, MD. Apoptosis in itself is very important in Alzheimer’s disease and in Parkinson’s disease. You see apoptosis as an early stage sign of Alzheimer’s disease and of glaucoma. Retinal cells have apoptosis before you develop the full blown glaucoma eye disease. Obviously you need to prove this. Dr. Francesca Cordeiro, MD. We will be doing that at the clinical trials going forward. But certainly, you go to our transgenic experimental mouse models. There is very good evidence that retinal cells apoptosis. It is a very early event. Nerve cell death in the retina mimics almost all the changes you see in the synapses of the brain. At the same times you see a change in synapses in the brain, you’re also seeing apoptosis in the retina.