ALBANY, NY (NEWS10) – It’s a dream come true for Igor Lednev, a chemist and distinguished professor at the University of Albany, to receive federal support to develop technology for the early detection of cancer. Alzheimer’s.
“Now, I have a unique opportunity to give back to society and develop something that can benefit a lot of people,” Lednev told NEWS10 during a visit to his studio.
In Lednev’s laser lab at the RNA Institute, he and his team develop new devices for a variety of applications, including research and clinical trials.
“When we collect and analyze the scattered images, we get very detailed information about the chemical or biological composition of the sample,” he explained.
Lednev showed us what a real desktop version of what he wants to be like a cell phone for an Alzheimer’s screening tool.
“All we need is a small drop of blood or a small drop of saliva,” Lednev said. “That’s all we have for analysis.”
The analysis may include the contribution from multiple biomarkers, thus increasing sensitivity and selectivity. Lednev’s initial research showed that this technology can distinguish the biological composition of saliva from Alzheimer’s patients and healthy people, and determine the stage of the disease.
Early Alzheimer’s Diagnostics LLC, the startup company he co-founded with his son Alex, was awarded a one-year National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant for $274,713 to support Phase I proof-of-concept.
“Later [the] in the first year, we will apply for Phase II, focusing on the development of the working model,” said Lednev.
The plan is for Lednev’s model to be a marketing tool for use in hospitals. The process may take several years. He is grateful to be doing this work at UAlbany’s RNA Institute.
“This is why our research is so successful,” he said.
Beth Smith-Boivin, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association Northeastern New York chapter, issued the following statement in response to the funding for Lednev’s technology development:
“It’s exciting to see the research and development going on in our search for a powerful tool to help diagnose this devastating, memory-destroying disease that affects 410,000 New Yorkers. simple, affordable, non-invasive tests are changing the way Alzheimer’s is researched, treated and cured. It’s only a matter of time before these early diagnostic tests – whether through blood or saliva – become effective use, to explain a disease that is often difficult to diagnose and to help decide which patients should receive new treatments. We know that brain damage develops over 10 to 20 years before symptoms appear, so these early diagnostic tests can alert people to their risks and offer ways to delay or prevent the disease. In addition, through diagnosis early and accurate individuals can participate in new clinical trials. This test comes at a time when there is a significant development in the treatment. Earlier this month, data confirmed that a drug called lecanemab slowed cognitive decline and function in those in the early stages of the disease. The strength of his results sparked the enthusiasm of Alzheimer’s researchers. If a treatment that clearly shows clinical benefit is covered by Medicare or private insurance, the demand for these experimental tests will increase.
Beth Smith-Boivin, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association Northeastern New York