Researchers have made a discovery that may lead to the curing of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (the so called mad cow disease) through photo therapy. 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.
The researchers now harbor high hopes that photo acoustic therapy, which is already used for tomography, may be used to remove the malfunctioning proteins. Today amyloid protein aggregates are treated with chemicals, both for detection as well as removal. These chemicals are highly toxic and harmful for those treated.
With multi photon laser the chemical treatment would be unnecessary. Nor would surgery be necessary for removing of aggregates. Due to this discovery it might, thus, be possible to remove the harmful protein without touching the surrounding tissue.
Nature Photonics – Multiphoton absorption in amyloid protein fibres
Fibrillization of peptides leads to the formation of amyloid fibres, which, when in large aggregates, are responsible for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Here, we show that amyloids have strong nonlinear optical absorption, which is not present in native non-fibrillized protein. Z-scan and pump–probe experiments indicate that insulin and lysozyme β-amyloids, as well as α-synuclein fibres, exhibit either two-photon, three-photon or higher multiphoton absorption processes, depending on the wavelength of light. We propose that the enhanced multiphoton absorption is due to a cooperative mechanism6 involving through-space dipolar coupling between excited states of aromatic amino acids densely packed in the fibrous structures. This finding will provide the opportunity to develop nonlinear optical techniques to detect and study amyloid structures and also suggests that new protein-based materials with sizable multiphoton absorption could be designed for specific applications in nanotechnology, photonics and optoelectronics.
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