A team of researchers from the University of Adelaide has created an optical sensor that can determine someone’s risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The sensor was designed for early detection of vitamin B12 deficiency (in diluted blood) which is associated with a higher risk of developing the diseases.
According to Dr. Georgio Tsiminis of the university, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are prevalent with aging people lacking vitamin B12. As people grow older, their ability to absorb the vitamin B12 declines.
“Our sensor is an early first step towards a point-of-care solution for measuring and tracking B12 in healthy ageing adults,” said Tsiminis. “This would allow doctors to monitor B12 levels and intervene as soon as B12 deficiency was detected.”
According to Medical Xpress, the technique uses opticle fibre technology and a laser. A small sample of diluted blood is collected and placed in a vial and light shines through it. When the light shines through, the vitamin B12 molecules vibrate which the opticle fibre collects and is taken to the spectrometer for analysis.
While the sensor has not reached the final stage of development, Tsiminis said that, “This is the first time a rapid technique based on optical spectroscopy has been shown to be able to detect vitamin B12 in human blood serum. We believe this is a very promising first step towards achieving this goal.”
According to Phys.org, the technique called “Raman spectroscopy” does not require a full laboratory test, takes less than 60 seconds while other methods take nearly two days.