The ability to directly observe the body is an invaluable tool in the arsenal of any medical professional. In fact, physical inspection comes only second to discussion of symptoms and medical history in a standard health assessment.
For many years, scientists have been harnessing the physical properties of light, with magnifying lenses, for example, and magnetism, as with Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI, to enhance visualization capabilities. Currently, teams of scientists at UC San Francisco are collaborating to build upon these imaging modalities and find new ways to monitor diseases using creative applications of emerging technologies. Developing Biophotonic Markers of Neurodegenerative Processes
Green is a
Ward admits to being more of a basic scientist, while Green is more of a clinical researcher; but this multi-disciplinary team finds value in playing off varied backgrounds. Together they envisioned a biomarker for neurodegenerative disease based on evaluation of the retina. To accomplish that, Ward is working to refine the imaging methodology and Green is bringing a clinical perspective.
The retina is really just an extension of the central nervous system that is available for light-based imaging and allows us to look directly at the tissue of interest, says Green. He explains that unlike other potential biomarkers such as MRI features or levels of specific molecules in the cerebral spinal fluid, evaluation of the retina via biophotonic methods is amenable to large-scale screening efforts.
It s non-invasive, it s inexpensive, it s rapid, three elements that make for an ideal biomarker, says Ward. Such measures can serve as clinical outcomes, which are required for moving any potential new therapeutics into clinical trials. We want to develop the method for transforming those early discoveries into therapies, explains Green.
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