Krtin Nithiyanandam has developed a test which could not only pick up the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease but potentially stops it spreading further
A 15-year-old British boy has developed a potential test for Alzheimer’s disease which could allow the condition to be diagnosed 10 years before the first symptoms appear.
Currently Alzheimer’s can only be detected through a series of cognitive tests or by looking at the brain after death.
But Krtin Nithiyanandam, of Epsom, Surrey, has developed a ‘trojan horse’ antibody which can penetrate the brain and attach to neurotoxic proteins which are present in the very first stages of the disease.
The antibodies, which would be injected into the bloodstream are also attached to fluorescent particles which can then be picked up on a brain scan.
Krtin submitted his test to the Google Science Fair Prize and learned that he had made it through to the final last week. He will find out next month if he has won a prestigious scholarship and mentoring to take his idea further.
“The main benefits of my test are that it could be used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease before symptoms start to show by focusing on pathophysiological changes, some of which can occur a decade before symptoms are prevalent,” Krtin told The Daily Telegraph.
“This early diagnosis could help families prepare for the future and ensure that existing drugs are used to better effect.
“Another benefit is that due to the conjugated fluorescent nanoparticles, my diagnostic-probe can be used to image Alzheimer’s disease non-invasively.”
Neurodegenerative disease like dementia are so hard to diagnose and treat because of the blood-brain barrier, an extra later of cellular material which surrounds blood vessels in the brain, and refuses to let anything through that is absolutely essential.
But Krtin’s antibodies can pass through that barrier. Latest lab tests even show that they ‘handcuff’ the toxic proteins, stopping them from developing further which could potentially stop Alzhiemer’s in its tracks
There are 850,000 people currently suffering from dementia in the UK, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common type. The disease kills at least 60,000 people each year.
“Some of my new preliminary research has suggested that my diagnostic probe could simultaneously have therapeutic potential as well as diagnostic,” said Krtin who attends Sutton Grammar School.
“I chose Alzheimer’s disease because I am fascinated by neuroscience and the workings of the brain.
“Alzheimer’s disease kills more people each year than breast and prostate cancer combined and Alzheimer’s is also considered to be one of the greatest medical challenges of the 21st century.
“I learnt about its cruel and devastating effects and how it interferes with everyday life, and nobody should have to live with this debilitating disease. “
Krtin, who suffered from hearing problems as a child, wants to study medicine when he leaves school.
“I have personally seen what a difference it can make to people’s lives and I want to make a difference to the lives of others.”
Andrea Cohan, Google Science Fair’s marketing lead, said that young people often had the creative ability to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges.
“We want to support and foster the next generation of scientists and engineers. The UK has once again proven itself as a hotbed of science creation.”
Google received thousands of submissions were received from more than 90 countries.
Other British hopefuls who have made it through to the finals are Peter He, 14, of London, Matthew Reid, 14, of Sussex, and Robert Saunt, 15, from Leicestershire.
Science Minister Jo Johnson said: “I’m delighted to hear that we have four exceptionally talented young scientists from the UK in the Google Science Fair final. From virtual reality to diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease, their brilliant ideas aren’t just inspirational – they have real potential to impact people’s lives one day in the future. My congratulations go out to all of them and I wish them every success as they go on to showcase their projects on the global stage.”
Krtin, who moved to Britain from India with is family when he was a baby, also represents Surrey in squash, is a member of St John’s Ambulance Cadets and is working towards his silver Duke of Edinburgh Award. His father is an IT consultant and mother is a teaching assistant.
“Winning the Google Science Fair would be truly life changing, I can’t even begin to put into words what that would be like,” he added.”
“It would be more than a dream come true, and it would also encourage me to pursue my interests in science, and hopefully one day, to change the world.”