A British teenager might have found a way to stop Alzheimer’s, a degenerative neural disease that generally afflicts old people and has thus far proved impossible to cure.
Krtin Nithiyanandam a 15-year-old school boy of Indian origin in Surrey has developed a test, which may diagnose Alzheimer’s disease 10 years before its first symptoms surface and even halt its progress.
At present, only a series of cognitive tests can detect Alzheimer’s; in many cases conclusive diagnosis can happen only by looking at the brain after death.
Nithiyanandam has, however, has found a way to outwit the disease: a ‘trojan horse’ antibody capable of penetrating the brain and attaching itself to neurotoxic proteins associated with the earliest stages of the disease.
The antibodies would be injected into bloodstreams fastened to fluorescent particles which brain scans can pick up. The test was submitted by Krtin submitted to the Google Science Fair Prize and has qualified for the final last week. Next month he will know whether he has won a prestigious scholarship to push his idea to the next level.
“By detecting pathophysiological changes, many of which happen ten years before symptoms become visible, the test can help in diagnosing and stopping Alzheimer’s disease before it is too late.” said Krtin. Because of the early diagnosis families can prepare better to deal with the disease and doctors can put existing drugs to much better effect.
“Besides, the conjugated fluorescent nanoparticles can help us image Alzheimer’s disease non-invasively.” Dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases are extremely difficult to diagnose and treat because of an extra layer of cellular material called the blood-brain barrier, which surrounds the brain’s blood vessels and does not allow anything but the absolute essentials to pass through. But the antibodies developed by Krtin’s not only pass through this barrier but also (if latest lab tests are anything to go by) ‘handcuff’ the toxic proteins potentially stopping Alzhiemer’s in its tracks
There are 850,000 people currently suffering from dementia in the UK, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common type. The disease kills at least 60,000 people each year.
“Some of my new preliminary research has suggested that my diagnostic probe could simultaneously have therapeutic potential as well as diagnostic,” said Krtin who attends Sutton Grammar School.