A recent study in Britain has managed to identify Alzheimer’s disease, a chronic neurodegenerative disease whose exact origin is poorly understood, using a diamond-embedded sensor.
According to a report in News Atlas, researchers at Lancaster University hope using the device for early detection can improve both patients’ quality and life and their life expectancy.
Billed as “the largest and most conclusive study of its kind,” researchers involved in the study built a sensor measuring about 2 feet with a diamond core, which was attached to a computer. They then analyzed about 550 blood samples from healthy individuals as well as those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. Infrared light was run through the diamond then through the sample. The result was what researchers called a “fingerprint spectrum” the study of which allowed the team to diagnose the disease.
Prof. Francis Martin, who headed the study, explained that by observing the way in which light is absorbed in the sample, the diamond-based analysis could distinguish between various biological markers.
“The diamond is one variant of the sensing device. The biological sample is placed in close proximity to one surface; the light passes through this surface in a phenomenon known as the evanescent wave – how the chemical bonds in the sample interact with and attenuate this evanescent wave give rise to the fingerprint spectrum,” he said.
Currently, diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease relies on a lengthy process of interviews, observations, scans, and blood and urine tests, meaning that in some cases, by the time the diagnosis is confirmed the disease has often progressed beyond the effective use of interventional therapies. Martin says that using the new diamond-embedded sensor could mean far earlier diagnosis that would help patients better manage their symptoms.