Daily Archives: January 12, 2020

New blood test can detect Alzheimer’s before symptoms appear

A new system that could lead to diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease through a blood test was created by a group of researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS). The system, called APEX (Amplified Plasmonic EXosome), is structured so that it can identify an early molecular marker of Alzheimer’s disease, the aggregated beta-amyloid (Aβ).

It is a technology that according to the researchers is “highly sensitive” and can provide an “accurate diagnosis, comparable to the PET image of the brain.” The latter is the standard for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease. The difference lies in the fact that a test carried out with the APEX system, according to the researchers, would cost only $30, less than 1% of the cost that must be faced with PET imaging.

The system sees a direct analysis of the blood plasma sample and would also be very simple to use. The results of the two-year study that led to the creation of this method were published in Nature Communications.

However, one of the main features of this system is not in the cost or in the ease of use but in the fact that it allows, according to the researchers, very early diagnosis compared to the classical methods. Precisely the untimely diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is one of the main causes of the failure of therapies that need early intervention. A solution can arrive with the PET imaging system or with the cerebrospinal fluid test, but these are too expensive tests that are therefore not widely adopted.

The new test “captures” effectively, and measures the quantities, only the most significant amyloid-beta molecules in the blood sample and at the same time the more “early” ones, in order to analyze the first aggregated forms of this protein to allow detection of the Alzheimer’s even before the classic clinical symptoms appear.

Explosion detected that occurred in the galaxy 3.6 billion light years away

A group of Australian researchers reveals that they have identified the fast cosmic waves related to an explosion that occurred in a distant galaxy 3.6 billion light-years away. This is a discovery that could be of fundamental importance to really understand the mysterious fast radio flashes.

The identification was carried out thanks to the observations of the Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), located in the region of Western Australia. This is a result that had long been expected in the astronomical community, a result that then resulted in a study published in Science.

Fast radio flashes are energy emissions caused by a cosmic explosion and are very difficult to intercept because they are emitted on long waves at the end of the electromagnetic spectrum. They are also very powerful so that they can develop in the same millisecond the same amount of energy that the Sun radiates in 10,000 years.

The first FRB was detected in 2007 and since then 85 have been identified, a number which however has not proved sufficient for a total understanding of the phenomenon. The researchers this time used a new method based on new software capable of calculating a billion measurements per second, which made it possible to “capture” these very fast flashes.

The new fast radio flash has been called FRB 180924 and is the first for which the position has been identified in a relatively precise manner. The lightning started from the galaxy Des J214425.25−405400.81. This galaxy was then photographed with the Very Large Telescope of the Southern European Observatory and its distance was measured with the Keck telescope of Hawaii.

Various hypotheses have been made regarding the explosion that these fast flashes generate and one of them sees the formation of a magnetar, a neutron star with a very pronounced magnetic field that is formed by the death of a very massive star. However, this discovery also reinforces the idea that there are two types of FRB, some repeated and others not, which may have completely different origins.

Those that are not repeated are much more difficult to identify but in this case, the researchers were able to identify with extreme precision the position of FRB 180924 locating it at 4000 parsecs (each parsec corresponds to about 3.26 light-years) from the galactic center of a galaxy distant from us 3.6 billion years ago.