UAlbany chemist develops Alzheimer’s detection device

ALBANY, NY (NEWS10) — It’s a dream come true for Igor Lednev, a chemist and distinguished professor at the University of Albany, to win federal support to develop technology for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease.

“Now, I really have a unique opportunity to give back to society and develop something that many people can potentially benefit from,” Lednev told NEWS10 during a visit to his lab.

At Lednev’s laser spectroscopy laboratory at the RNA Institute, he and his team develop new instruments for various applications, including forensic science and medical diagnostics.

“We collect and analyze scattered photons and obtain very detailed information about the chemical or biochemical composition of the sample,” he explained.

Lednev showed us what is essentially a desktop version of what he wants to make into the size of a cell phone for the commercialized Alzheimer’s screening tool.

“What we need is a small drop of blood or a small drop of saliva,” Lednev said. “That’s all we need for the analysis.”

The assay potentially includes the contribution of multiple biomarkers, making it much more sensitive and selective. Lednev’s preliminary research has shown that this technology can differentiate the biochemical composition of the saliva of Alzheimer’s patients and healthy individuals, as well as determine the stage of the disease.

Early Alzheimer’s Diagnostics LLC, his new company co-founded with his son Alex, was awarded a highly competitive $274,713 one-year National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant to support a proof-of-concept of Phase I

“After [the] In the first year, we will apply for Phase II, which will focus on the development of a working prototype,” added Lednev.

The plan is for Lednev’s prototype to become a commercialized tool for use in hospitals. The process could take several years. He is grateful to be doing this work at UAlbany’s RNA Institute.

“This is the reason why we are successful with our research,” he said.

Beth Smith-Boivin, executive director of the Northeast New York chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, issued the following statement in response to the news of Lednev’s technology development funding:

“It is very exciting to see the research and development right in our backyard of a potentially powerful tool to help diagnose the devastating memory-robbing disease that affects 410,000 New Yorkers. A simple, affordable and non-invasive test could transform the way Alzheimer’s is investigated, diagnosed and treated. It’s only a matter of time before these early diagnostic tests, either through blood or saliva, become more widely adopted, providing clarity on a disease that is notoriously difficult to diagnose and helping determine which patients should receive new treatments. We know that brain abnormalities develop 10 to 20 years before symptoms emerge, so these early diagnostic tests could alert people to their risks and allow them to take steps to potentially delay or prevent the disease. In addition, early and accurate diagnosis allows people to participate in innovative clinical trials. As for the timing, this test is emerging just as an important development in treatment is coming into play. Earlier this month, data confirmed that a drug called lecanemab slowed cognitive and functional decline in the early stages of the disease. It has generated significant excitement among Alzheimer’s researchers because of the robustness of its results. If there is a treatment that clearly demonstrates clinical benefit and is covered by Medicare and private insurance, the demand for these early diagnostic tests could skyrocket.”

Beth Smith-Boivin, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association of Northeast New York

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