Better methods of detecting the various forms of amyloid as it builds up in tissues with age should result in greater support for development and availability of the means to remove this unwanted form of metabolic waste. Amyloids are present in every individual to some degree, that presence increasing with age, and are known to cause or be associated with numerous age-related diseases. This is one of the fundamental forms of damage that causes aging, yet amyloid levels are rarely assessed in healthy individuals, or even for patients with diseases that are relevant but something other than full-blown amyloidosis. Ideally everyone, healthy or not, should undergo amyloid clearance therapies - like that developed and trialed by Pentraxin for transthyretin amyloid - every few years starting in middle age or earlier.
Researchers have developed a molecular probe that can detect an array of different amyloid deposits in several human tissues. This new probe is extremely sensitive and was used at very low concentrations to correctly identify every positive amyloidosis sample when compared to the traditional clinical tests. The probe also picked up some amyloidosis signals that the traditional methods were unable to detect. This result means that the new probe could be used to detect amyloidosis before symptoms present, leading to faster and hence more effective treatment.
Aggregates of amyloid proteins form and deposit in different tissues which can affect the normal function. As the disease progresses and amyloid deposits grow, tissues become irreversibly damaged. Amyloid deposits can be found in many different organs leading to a wide range of possible symptoms and making diagnosis challenging. To date, the primary mode of diagnosis for amyloidosis has been the Congo red stain. However, evidence from the team shows that their new probe is much more sensitive, being able to detect small amyloid deposits in samples that were previously determined to be amyloid-free.
According to the U.S. Office of Rare Diseases (ORD) amyloidosis is a rare disease, affecting less than 200,000 people in the U.S.. However, the Amyloidosis Foundation suspects that the figures are underreported and that amyloidosis is not that rare - just rarely diagnosed. A more sensitive diagnostic method would help to uncover the reality of the situation. "Given the sensitivity of the probe, we think this would make an excellent complement to traditional methods and could eventually be a replacement. It could also be used to identify new types of amyloids and presymptomatic patients who are at risk of developing the disease."