Investigators found they could distinguish diseased or aggregated proteins, believed to cause the diseases, from the well-functioning proteins in the body by using multiphoton laser technique.
They report their findings in the journal Nature Photonics.
“Nobody has talked about using only light to treat these diseases until now. This is a totally new approach and we believe that this might become a breakthrough in the research of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
“We have found a totally new way of discovering these structures using just laser light,” said researcher and doctoral student Piotr Hanczyc.
These diseases arise when amyloid beta proteins are aggregated in large doses so they start to inhibit proper cellular processes. If the protein aggregates are removed, the disease is in principle cured. The problem until now has been to detect and remove the aggregates.
The researchers are optimistic that photo-acoustic therapy, which is already used for tomography, may be used to remove the malfunctioning proteins.
Amyloid protein aggregates are currently treated with chemicals, both for detection as well as removal. However, these chemicals are highly toxic and harmful for those treated.
With multiphoton laser, chemical treatment would be unnecessary, nor would surgery be necessary for removing of aggregates. It may well be possible to remove the harmful protein without touching the surrounding tissue.
Different proteins create different kinds of amyloids, but they generally have the same structure. This makes them different from the well-functioning proteins in the body, which can now be shown by multiphoton laser technique.