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Published on: November 3, 2013
by Chris Welch for The Verge:
Lasers could prove to be the key in eliminating brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. New findings from researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the Polish Wroclaw University of Technology have raised hopes that doctors may one day be able to cure the ailments without needing to touch surrounding brain tissue.
Such a technique could also replace the chemical-based treatments used to treat amyloid protein aggregates today, which involve toxic components that can put patients at risk. The researchers discovered that it was possible to distinguish aggregations of the proteins thought to cause brain disease with the help of multi-photon lasers.
“We have found a totally new way of discovering these structures using just laser light” says Piotr Hanczyc of Chalmers University of Technology. “Nobody has talked about using only light to treat these diseases until now.”
Singling out the harmful proteins is one crucial step, but they also need to be removed before patients can be cured of these life-altering diseases. To that end, the researchers seem hopeful that photoacoustic therapy could be used to get rid of the protein aggregates. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (better known as “mad cow disease”) is another condition that could be treated with this innovative approach.
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