If there is one thing scientists love to do with chronic diseases, it is blast them with lasers. In fact, we’re pretty sure any planning meeting at major medical facilities has the agenda item “Lasers: Using Them Enough?” The latest awful disease to get a zapping? Alzheimers.
In fact, it’s about as simple as it gets. Alzheimer’s is believed by some to be caused by proteins building up in the brain. So the plan is to, yes, use the lasers to blast the proteins:
The researchers discovered, as they show in the journal Nature Photonics, that it is possible to distinguish aggregations of the proteins, believed to cause the diseases, from the the well-functioning proteins in the body by using multi-photon laser technique.
If the protein aggregates are removed, the disease is in principle cured. The problem until now has been to detect and remove the aggregates.
Before you open up Grandma’s skull and shoot a laser pointer at her brain, the reality is that this might not work. The exact cause, or causes, of Alzheimer’s is still up for considerable debate.
On the other hand, this technique can address two theories at once, and even if it doesn’t work, it can rule those theories out; a lot of science is, after all, about failure. And, as a bonus, even if it doesn’t work on Alzheimer’s, it might work on Parkinson’s and mad cow disease.
And finally, you have to stop and consider what’s more fun for the patient: Taking a bunch of pills, or strapping something to your head and getting blasted with high-power lasers. I know which one I’d choose.