With the risk of developing dementia growing at an alarming pace, a University of Central Florida research team is working with the Boston University School of Medicine to develop a miniature diagnostic toolkit in the hopes of stimulating earlier detection and treatment.
The collaborative research project, funded by the National Science Foundation for up to $600,000 over three years, will use nanoparticles on a chip about the size of a credit card to detect damaging levels of oxygen byproducts in the central nervous system.
The byproducts, known as reactive oxygen species (ROS), are major contributors to serious neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
The development of new analytical tools for speeding up diagnosis and treatment of these disorders is critical if we hope to slow their growth, said lead researcher Hyoung Jin Cho, an associate professor of Mechanical, Materials and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Central Florida and a researcher at UCF's NanoScience Technology Center.
The number of people with dementia, which is the primary precursor to Alzheimer's, will almost double every 20 years, reaching 65.7 million in 2030 and 115.4 million in 2050, according to the 2009 World Alzheimer Report from Alzheimer's Disease International. The report, issued last week in recognition of World Alzheimer's Day, calls for making the fight against the disease a national and global priority.
"This research shows significant potential for better understanding the role of ROS in neurodegenerative diseases," said Cho. "Once we have a clearer understanding of the role of ROS, we may be able to address more effective treatments."
Existing tests have several drawbacks. They are only able to detect limited numbers of significant byproducts at a time; they require time-consuming and labor-intensive processing; and they don't work quickly enough to keep up with the short lifespan of most of the byproduct
|Contact: Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala|
University of Central Florida