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Validation of ocular measures as potential biomarkers for early detection of brain amyloid and neurodegeneration

Principal Investigator:
  • Sandra Black, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Team Members:
  • Anthony Lang, Krembil Research Institute
  • Chris Hudson , University of Waterloo
  • Lee Goldstein, Boston University
  • Barry Greenberg, Krembil Research Institute
  • Efrem Mandelcorn, Krembil Research Institute
  • Edward Margolin, Krembil Research Institute
  • Stephen Strother, Rotman Research Institute
  • Aristotle Voineskos, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
  • Krembil Foundation

Project Overview

500,000 Canadians have dementia, a number that will double within a generation due to the ongoing aging demographics of the population, with annual costs estimated to increase from $15B currently to over $150B by the year 2050. The estimated total cost to the society including the loss of productivity by the caregivers, is predicted to be $872B. Delaying dementia onset by 2y would reduce this cost by $219B. Diagnosis very early in the course of disease will be required to accomplish this goal. Brain imaging or a spinal tap is currently required to identify people at early stages of the disease, but such procedures are either too costly or invasive to be used broadly for screening and early detection. In this project Dr. Black and her team plan to test two non-invasive eye measurements to identify patients at early disease stages. One of these (spectral domain optical coherence tomography) involves assessment of changes in the nerves and blood vessels in the retina. The other (an infrared laser quasi-elastic light scattering procedure) has been developed to detect pathology related to a key protein called beta-amyloid (involved in development of AD) in the lens of the eyes prior to its accumulation in the brain. The effectiveness of these techniques will be tested by comparing them with brain imaging (MRI) and clinical, cognitive, behaviour, mood and functional assessments.