Dye Technique Measured Nerve Cell Damage in the Retina
A simple and inexpensive test that uses dyes to visualize retinal cells monitored the stage and type of cell death in the retina as neurodegeneration progressed in animals prone to develop disorders such as Alzheimer disease, a study found.1
The technique, which is just starting in human trials and could be available within 2 years, involves highlighting nerve cell damage in the retina using fluorescent markers that attach to dying cells. It can be administered as an injection in the arm or via eye drops. Once the substance is in the body, it seeks out nerve cells that are dying and chemically marks them.
Ophthalmologists can then use an infrared camera to locate the damaged cells, according to the researchers. “The optical properties of the eye provide compelling opportunities for the quantitative monitoring of disease mechanisms and dynamics in experimental neurodegeneration,” first author Francesca Cordeiro, MD, PhD, of University College London, said in The London Telegraph.2 “Our findings also help to directly observe retinal nerve cell death in patients as an adjunct to refining diagnosis, tracking disease status, and assessing therapeutic intervention.”