South Charlotte

Researcher presents new hope for Alzheimer’s early detection

Eleonora Lad is an assistant professor of ophthalmology at Duke University Medical Center.
Eleonora Lad is an assistant professor of ophthalmology at Duke University Medical Center.

A Duke University researcher will visit a memory care center in Charlotte this month to talk about an eye scan that could detect Alzheimer’s disease before symptoms appear.

Eleonora Lad, assistant professor of ophthalmology at Duke University Medical Center, is conducting a clinical study that looks for biomarkers, or measurable substances in the body, that could indicate whether someone will develop the disease.

“Dr. Lad’s work may someday help us develop new treatments for Alzheimer’s,” said Lynn Ivey, founder and CEO of The Ivey Memory Wellness Day Center. “As the daughter of parents who developed Alzheimer’s and dementia later in life, I’m keenly interested in her findings and the promise of this new testing.

“We tend to hear only bad news about Alzheimer’s, but this evening will focus on something positive, with the promise of new treatments someday.”

Lad, who recently presented her research findings at an international Alzheimer’s conference in Australia, will give a free presentation from 6-8 p.m. on Oct. 29 at The Ivey.

The presentation is open to all, including caregivers and medical professionals, and will be presented in layman’s terms, Lad said.

We tend to hear only bad news about Alzheimer’s, but this evening will focus on something positive, with the promise of new treatments someday.

Lynn Ivey, founder and CEO of The Ivey Memory Wellness Day Center

Lad described the retina as an extension of the brain, and she said that scans can reveal changes in the retina that reflect changes in the brain.

Researchers have developed eye-imaging software that can precisely identify these retinal changes, Lad said. The camera used in her clinical study provides images 100 times the resolution of an MRI.

“We have a really accurate way to measure these particular biomarkers,” Lad said.

We think that a discovery of any biomarker would be a game-changer for Alzheimer’s disease.

Eleonora Lad, assistant professor of ophthalmology at Duke University Medical Center

The retinal scan also is much cheaper to use than other types of scans, and patients could get the test in an optometrist’s office. Early detection could lead to treatment that could stall the development of Alzheimer’s disease before too much damage is done to the brain.

The clinical study is working with 49 patients, including a control group and patients who have mild or mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease, Lad said.

Each patient received a retinal scan when he or she enrolled, and researchers will scan each patient again after a year and look for significant changes in certain biomarkers.

“We think that a discovery of any biomarker would be a game-changer for Alzheimer’s disease,” Lad said.

Lad’s talk will be held at The Ivey, 6030 Park South Drive, and light fare will be provided. She will answer questions following her presentation.

Marty Minchin is a freelance writer: martyminchin@gmail.com.

Want to go?

Reserve a spot before Oct. 27 by contacting 704-909-2070 or beverly.byrnes@theivey.com. Care for loved ones is available during the presentation with advance notice.

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