Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Grove.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Grove.

Finding protein plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease can often require costly PET scans or invasive spinal taps.

But researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in conjunction with Sacramento-based NeuroVision Imaging, announced Tuesday they have discovered a way to detect and identify the disease by optically scanning eyeballs.

In a peer-reviewed study published in “JCI Insight” last week, the scientists said they were able to employ experimental retinal imaging to detect and identify the beta-amyloid protein deposits that mirror those lodged in the brain.

It was the first feasibility study to noninvasively detect the protein plaques in retinas of living patients.

The non-invasive technology, researchers said, potentially allows for early screening, detection and treatment of the debilitating cognitive disease.

Findings from the Cedars-Sinai/NeuroVision study strongly suggest that retinal imaging can serve as a surrogate biomarker to investigate and monitor Alzheimers, researchers said. Clinical trials are ongoing.

Funding for the study was provided by the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute on Aging, the Saban Family Foundation and the Marciano Family Foundation.

Health business reporter Dana Bartholomew can be reached at dbartholomew@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @_DanaBart.