A neuroscientist has developed a way to use the tiny microscope to see the brain at a microscopic level in order to diagnose brain diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Dr Rajesh Kumar, a professor at the Centre for Brain Science and Medical Engineering (CBME) at the University of South Florida, said the microscope is the next step in diagnosing neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
“In the past, it was a challenge to see what was happening in the brain,” Dr Kumar said.
“But we can now see what is happening in a patient’s brain, and we can make the diagnosis.”
He said a microscope is not only useful to study the brain, but also to study diseases.
“We can use a technique called fluorescence microscopy to see brain cells,” Dr Rajesh said.
It can be used to see if there are any signs of cancer, he said.
Dr Kumar said he was inspired to develop the microscope after seeing people with neurological disorders in a lab.
“I found myself getting curious about the brain and the ways it’s different from other organs,” he said, adding that it was something he could learn from.
“It’s something I wanted to learn from other people and that’s when I came up with the idea.”
Dr Kumar’s research focuses on neurodegenesis, the process of losing nerve cells and the brain.
The brain is an organ in which nerve cells divide into neurons and glial cells, which help control muscle function.
It also has a network of blood vessels that carry oxygen to the brain to regulate body temperature and blood pressure.
“People who have Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s are often in a coma,” Dr Sharma said.
There are a number of different types of dementia, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and some forms of schizophrenia.
It is thought that around 1.5 million people in the world are thought to have some form of dementia.
The neurodegeners are known as synaptic prions, and Dr Sharma says that many are linked to a loss of the ability to communicate with their own brains.
“Our study shows that the prions are linked directly to the loss of communication between neurons,” he told AAP.
“And in people with Alzheimer’s it is a common finding that the brains are losing communication with their nervous system.”
Dr Sharma said there was a growing body of research linking brain diseases with changes in the structure of nerve cells, and the prion disease is one of them.
“The neuropathology of Alzheimer’s disease is related to a decrease in the amount of the synapse that links the neurons together,” Dr Shah said.
The researchers used a fluorescence microscope to study how the neurons in a mouse brain respond to a drug called carbamoyl-4-chloroethanol.
This chemical is known to damage the nerve cells in the prionic nerve cells of the mouse.
“This is an extremely potent neurotoxin and it also damages the synapses between neurons, and when you have these changes in neuronal synapses it can cause Alzheimer’s,” Dr Singh said.
He said there is no cure for Alzheimer’s in humans.
“There is currently no effective drug that can slow the progression of the disease,” Dr Vijay Singh said, and added that the treatment for Alzheimer is known as neurodegening agents.
“However, there is evidence that it is possible to prevent the progression in some individuals with Alzheimer,” he added.
“While we don’t know the precise mechanism, there are some promising results suggesting that some of the drugs are able to block the prionics.”