Cognoptix: Simple Eye-Scan Test a Powerful Tool for Diagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease

brainscanCognoptix, a privately held biotechnology company headquartered near Boston, is developing an eye scan test capable of diagnosing Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) by detecting buildup of the disease’s characteristic beta-amyloid plaque.

With approximately 1 in 8 Americans over 65 affected by AD, researchers are clamoring to understand and develop a cure for this mysterious disease: as of mid-2012 there were approximately 330 AD drugs in clinical trials and the global market for AD drugs peaked at about $10.2 billion. While such treatments introduced within the past fifteen years, like Aricept, have shown to be effective in slowing the progression of the disease, none has shown the ability or potential to cure the disease. However, most scientists agree that the earlier the disease is diagnosed and the earlier the patient can begin treatment with these drugs, the more effective they would be.

That’s where Cognoptix can make a profound impact. Diagnosing AD at present often involves brain imaging, which is limited in its sensitivity to provide an accurate early diagnosis of the disease primarily because it does not use a more sensitive in vivo biomarker. The Cognoptix test, however, employs a fluorescent ligand scanning (FLS) technique that takes advantage of the sensitivity of such small molecule biomarkers. The test involves solution of fluorescently-tagged beta-amyloid specific small molecules being dropped into a patient’s eye, which is then scanned by the company’s SAPPHIRE platform – a compact scanner. The small molecules are absorbed and bind to beta-amyloid molecules that have aggregated into masses of plaque. Fluorescence is activated when the tagged ligands bind to their beta-amyloid targets, the emitted light detectable by the scanner. The scan can then be repeated to track aggregation of beta-amyloid over time, ultimately giving neurologists an accurate idea of the volume and rate of plaque accumulation.

Importantly, early results show significant potential for the test and the SAPPHIRE platform. According to the company, preclinical and proof of concept studies in mice have shown the platform’s ability to detect the presence of beta-amyloid protein at an early stage in the disease’s progression. The company is currently forming and seeking strategic partnerships to prepare its platform for clinical application.

Further tests will be needed to validate Cognoptix’s early findings, but if these results are reproducible, Cognoptix and its technology have the ability to overhaul commonly accepted Alzheimer’s Disease diagnostic practices, providing a tool to diagnose the disease at an early stage, thereby increasing the efficacy of current therapies.

More information about Cognoptix can be found on the company’s website at, or on the company’s profile in the OneMedDatabase

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