Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have created a new method for diagnosing neurological and psychiatric disorders, such as neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease, according to a Tuesday press release.
The new method, which can also help diagnose epilepsy, traumatic brain injury and stroke, is based on an analysis of EEG patterns using algorithms. Invented by Dr. Dan Milikovsky and Prof. Alon Friedman, MD-PhD, from the Departments of Physiology and Cell Biology, Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience, the method was based on results from their research that found brain conditions display nonconvulsive epileptic seizure-like activity that can be seen by EEG recordings.
The abnormal activity in nonconvulsive epileptic seizure-like conditions acts as a reflection of pathological changes in dysfunction of the brain blood vessels, which contributes to the development of neurodegenerative and other neuro-psychiatric disorders.
"Research from our lab and others, shows that the pathological changes in the brain blood vessels, which are usually referred to as the blood-brain barrier (BBB), contribute to the formation of Alzheimer's disease and other brain disorders. Since dysfunction of the BBB is also a key component in the pathogenesis of epilepsy, we hypothesized that BBB dysfunction in Alzheimer's patients would also trigger abnormal brain activity that could be detected by EEG, an accessible and affordable tool used in the clinic, and serve as a diagnostic method for these conditions," explained Prof. Friedman.
"Indeed, we find abnormal, epileptic-like EEG recordings in many patients with Alzheimer's disease as well as epilepsy, which reflect brain blood vessel pathology and can serve both for diagnosis as well as a therapeutic target," Friedman added.
According to the press release, the new method has already been tested on animal models and some human patients, which has also been validated in large databases of EEG records of thousands of people.
"This new approach for diagnosing neurological conditions based on analysis of changes of blood vessels in the brain can be valuable for the early detection of Alzheimer's disease and other neurological conditions, at the stage when treatment can still slow down disease progression. The technology offers a biomarker for immediate results and allows for the continuous monitoring of the progression of the neurological condition and response to treatment," said Josh Peleg, CEO of BGN Technologies, the technology transfer company of Ben-Gurion University."We are now seeking a potential industry partner for the further development of this promising method for a variety of applications, from monitoring of ICU patients, to patients after stroke and head injuries and for the diagnosis of vascular pathology in early Alzheimer’s disease," Peleg added.