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World’s First Tiniest hammer to improve treatments for Brain Injuries and Alzheimer’s Disease

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Alzheimer's, Man, Pixabay

New York, Feb 5, 2017: Ever wondered what happens on the other side of our skulls when we hit our heads? Now, the world’s first tiniest hammer being developed by the US researchers may help understand what happens when force is applied to brain cells, an advance that may help improve treatments for brain injuries as well as Alzheimer’s disease.

The “microHammer” — a tiny cellular-scale machine — can be used to tap, strike, squeeze and poke individual neural progenitors to elicit responses to unlock the mysteries of the brain.

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The device flows through individual cells and subjects each of them to one of a variety of physical forces, the researchers said.

“The microhammer will enable precision measurements of the physical, chemical and biological changes that occur when cells are subjected to mechanical loading, ranging from small perturbations to high-force, high-speed impacts,” Megan Valentine from University of California – Santa Barbara, said in a statement.

The microhammer is currently undergoing the process of characterisation, whereby the types and magnitudes of forces it can apply are being measured and recorded in anticipation of the first set of neuron-smashing experiments.

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The microhammer will provide new insight into the causes and progress of brain injuries due to trauma.

It could also pave the way toward a better understanding of neural conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease as well as traumatic brain injury — a currently incurable and often insidious condition — that affects everyone from soldiers, to athletes in contact sports, to anyone who has an accident, Valentine said. (IANS)

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Researchers Develop New Test to Detect Alzheimer’s Disease Even Before the Symptoms Occur

Now, new clinical studies with test participants in very early stages of the disease can be launched

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In Alzheimer's disease, patients start losing memory. Pixabay

Researchers have developed a new test that could help doctors detect Alzheimer’s disease eight years before the first symptoms occur.

Using current techniques, Alzheimer’s disease, the most frequent cause of dementia, can only be detected once the typical plaques have formed in the brain.

At this point, therapy seems no longer possible. However, the first changes caused by Alzheimer’s take place on the protein level up to 20 years sooner.

“Once amyloid plaques have formed, it seems that the disease can no longer be treated,” said study co-author Andreas Nabers from Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany.

In Alzheimer’s patients, the amyloid beta protein folds incorrectly due to pathological changes long before the first symptoms occur.

A team of researchers headed by Klaus Gerwert from Ruhr-University Bochum successfully diagnosed this misfolding using a simple blood test. As a result, the disease could be detected approximately eight years before the first clinical symptoms occur.

A lady suffering from Alzheimer’s. Flickr

But experiments showed that the test was not suitable for clinical applications as the test provided false positive diagnoses for nine per cent of the study participants.

In order to increase the number of correctly identified Alzheimer’s cases, the researchers have now introduced the two-tier diagnostic method.

To this end, they use the original blood test to identify high-risk individuals. Subsequently, they add a dementia-specific biomarker, namely tau protein, to run further tests with those test participants whose Alzheimer’s diagnosis was positive in the first step.

Also Read- 15 Dead, Over 15,000 Infected by Dengue in Sri Lanka

If both biomarkers show a positive result, there is a high likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease, said the study published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring.

“Through the combination of both analyses, 87 of 100 Alzheimer’s patients were correctly identified in our study,” Gerwert said.

“Now, new clinical studies with test participants in very early stages of the disease can be launched,” Gerwert added. (IANS)