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Researchers develop brain blood vessel pathology diagnostic

Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) have developed a new method for rapidly diagnosing brain blood vessel pathology that may lead to neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, as well as other neurological and psychiatric conditions, including epilepsy, traumatic brain injury and stroke.

The method is based on analysis of EEG patterns using algorithms and was invented by Dr. Dan Milikovsky and Prof. Alon Friedman, MD-PhD, Departments of Physiology and Cell Biology, Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

The diagnostic method is based on findings from the lab of Prof. Friedman that patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other brain conditions display non-convulsive epileptic seizure-like activity that can be detected by EEG recordings. The study was published in the Science Translational Medicine Journal. This abnormal activity reflects pathological changes in dysfunction of the brain blood vessels, which contribute, according to recent studies, to the pathogenesis of various neurodegenerative and other neuro-psychiatric disorders. 

Prof. Friedman said: “Research from our lab and others, shows that the pathological changes in the brain blood vessels, which are usually referred to as the blood-brain barrier (BBB), contribute to the formation of Alzheimer’s disease and other brain disorders. Since dysfunction of the BBB is also a key component in the pathogenesis of epilepsy, we hypothesized that BBB dysfunction in Alzheimer’s patients would also trigger abnormal brain activity that could be detected by EEG, an accessible and affordable tool used in the clinic, and serve as a diagnostic method for these conditions. Indeed, we find abnormal, epileptic-like EEG recordings in many patients with Alzheimer’s disease as well as epilepsy, which reflect brain blood vessel pathology and can serve both for diagnosis as well as a therapeutic target.”  

The technology was successfully tested on animal models and dozens of patients and is now been validated on large databases of EEG records of thousands of patients.

Josh Peleg, CEO of BGN Technologies, said: “This new approach for diagnosing neurological conditions based on analysis of changes of blood vessels in the brain can be valuable for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological conditions, at the stage when treatment can still slow down disease progression. The technology offers a biomarker for immediate results and allows for the continuous monitoring of the progression of the neurological condition and response to treatment. We are now seeking a potential industry partner for the further development of this promising method for a variety of applications, from monitoring of ICU patients, to patients after stroke and head injuries and for the diagnosis of vascular pathology in early Alzheimer’s disease.” 

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