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NTNU Teams up with NTUH for Finding Out Alzheimer’s Disease with Blood-testing Technique
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With the coming of aging society, the number of patients suffering from dementia is increasing, accounting for 8% of the elderly population, nearly 300,000. It is a heavy burden on family and social medical care. In the past, the Alzheimer's disease was often diagnosed by NMR. The Institute of Electro and Optical Engineering of National Taiwan Normal University work with the Department of Neurology of National Taiwan University Hospital for the ImmunoMagnetic Reduction (IMR) Assay. With only 6 cc of blood, it can identify patients at early-stage of Alzheimer’s disease. This is a leading technique is available now, approved by the Food and Drug Administration at the end of last year.

Chair Professor Horng Herng Er led a team and cooperation with MagQu, a company founded by NTNU Alumni Yang Shieh Yueh. With over ten years of industry and academic cooperation and the assistance of clinical trial by NTUH, the technique successfully obtained the marketing authorization and a press conference was held on April 30th at NTUH.

In ImmunoMagnetic Reduction (IMR), the reagent is a solution having homogeneously dispersed magnetic nanoparticles, which are coated with hydrophilic surfactants and bio-probe (e.g. antibodies). Under external multiple ac magnetic fields, magnetic nanoparticles oscillate with the multiple ac magnetic fields via magnetic interaction. Thus, the reagent under external multiple ac magnetic fields shows a magnetic property, called mixed-frequency ac magnetic susceptibility Xac. Via the bio-probes on the outmost shell, magnetic nanoparticles associate with and magnetically label bio-molecules (e.g. antigens) to be detected. Due to the association, magnetic nanoparticles become either larger, as schematically shown.

This method mainly assists clinical doctors in identifying relatively difficult cases and tracking high-risk patients in long term. For example, in average, someone with dementia among first degree relatives have three times risk of having it. It is also true to those having cardiovascular risk factors, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol and heart disease. The blood testing technique shed a light to the diagnosis of early Alzheimer’s disease. When tackling the challenge of increasing number of dementia patients, we should also take social care and medical diagnosis into consideration.

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