PANA has set out to develop an innovative method to diagnose Alzheimer's in its early stages, up to five years before the occurrence of clinical symptoms. This could increase the duration and quality of patients' lives considerably.
Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia and loss of autonomy among elderly people today, posing a huge challenge for families, medical professionals and society in general.
There is currently no effective method for early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, which effectively limits the use of early therapeutic strategies to delay onset of the disease’s most adverse symptoms.
In response, the EU-funded PANA project is investigating potential diagnostic and therapeutic methods which could be effective up to five years before clinical symptoms of Alzheimer’s appear.
PANA will design biomarkers able to detect deformed brain proteins that are associated with the development of Alzheimer’s. The biomarkers will be attached to specifically developed nanostructures containing contrast agents for both magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scans – currently the best way to diagnose the disease.
These nanostructures, alongside imaging techniques, will be tested on animal models to determine the earliest point at which the PANA method can be relied upon for accurate early diagnosis.
PANA aims to develop theragnostic – simultaneous diagnostic and therapeutic – strategies to tackle Alzheimer’s. If deformed brain proteins can be successfully detected by PANA’s nanostructures, these could also be destroyed by medicine using a targeted delivery system.