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Alzheimer's Early Detection Through Biomarkers

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image: Scientists from Swansea University ‘s Institute for Innovative Materials, Processing and Numerical Technologies (IMPACT) and Japan have been awarded £1.3 million to develop a new “point of care testing” kit that can detect biomarkers for Alzheimer's Disease. The project follows Dr Sanjiv Sharma’s ground-breaking work in this area and the development of the world’s first COVID-19 ‘smart patch’.view more 

Credit: Swansea University

Scientists from Swansea University ‘s Institute for Innovative Materials, Processing and Numerical Technologies (IMPACT) and Japan have been awarded £1.3 million to develop a new “point of care testing” kit that can detect biomarkers for Alzheimer's Disease.

The project follows Dr Sanjiv Sharma’s ground-breaking work in this area and the development of the world’s first COVID-19 ‘smart patch’.

Compared to hypodermic single needles, a ‘smart patch’ consists of a collection of tiny needles - microneedles - created to break the skin barrier in a minimally invasive manner, similar to a nicotine patch. Their innovative design means they can be developed to identify and monitor specific biomarkers in the skin.

This new major project will see Dr Sharma lead a consortium of leading scientists from Swansea University, Imperial College London and The University of Glasgow.  Dr Kaori Tsukakoshi will steer researchers from Japan with Tokyo University of Agriculture & Technology and National Institutes for Quantum Science & Technology.  Together they will create a Point-of-Care Testing Kit to facilitate early diagnosis and monitoring of disease progression in primary clinics or home settings.

Dr Sanjiv Sharma of Swansea University comments:

"Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the most prevalent form of dementia.   It is presently untreatable and associated with a high social and familial burden, for which national health systems are not prepared, constituting a major challenge for sustainable development.

Over a million people in the UK are predicted to have dementia by 2025 and with the current cost of £26 billion a year to the UK economy, there is a huge financial and societal impact. Similarly, Japan’s aging population is witnessing an increase in AD. This increase of total prevalent AD cases in those ages 60 years and older from 3.5 million cases in 2016 to 4.9 million cases in 2026 corresponds to an annual growth rate of 4%. There are similar trends seen globally.

As disease modifying-treatments (DMT) for AD are becoming a possibility, evidence suggests any effective preventive or DMT must be started very early in the disease process, stressing the importance of an early diagnosis based on easily accessible biomarkers.  Thus, the development of non-invasive markers of AD pathology in blood and skin samples is essential for screening the elderly population with memory complaints and could represent the first step to determine individuals at greatest risk of AD dementia."

Dr Kaori Tsukakoshi of Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology comments:

“In the last decade, blood biomarkers for AD diagnosis have been extensively studied and are finally being established. Our collaborative research focusing on the development of the Point-of-Care Testing device for the AD biomarkers would facilitate a new diagnostic process of AD, which will enable more patients with AD to be led to upcoming DMT for AD.”

This is a multidisciplinary research project co-funded by the Medical Research Council – UK Research and Innovation, and the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED).

The IMPACT operation is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government and Swansea University


Notes to editors:

Swansea University is a world-class, research-led, dual campus university offering a first-class student experience and has one of the best employability rates of graduates in the UK. The University has the highest possible rating for teaching – the Gold rating in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) in 2018 and was commended for its high proportions of students achieving consistently outstanding outcomes.

Swansea climbed 14 places to 31st in the Guardian University Guide 2019, making us Wales’ top ranked university, with one of the best success rates of graduates gaining employment in the UK and the same overall satisfaction level as the Number 1 ranked university.

The 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 results saw Swansea make the ‘biggest leap among research-intensive institutions’ in the UK (Times Higher Education, December 2014) and achieved its ambition to be a top 30 research University, soaring up the league table to 26th in the UK.

The University is in the top 300 best universities in the world, ranked in the 251-300 group in The Times Higher Education World University rankings 2018.  Swansea University now has 23 main partners, awarding joint degrees and post-graduate qualifications.

The University was established in 1920 and was the first campus university in the UK. It currently offers around 350 undergraduate courses and 350 postgraduate courses to circa 20,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students.  The University has ambitious expansion plans as it moves towards its centenary in 2020 and aims to continue to extend its global reach and realise its domestic and international potential.

Swansea University is a registered charity. No.1138342. Visit

For more information:

Kevin Sullivan, senior press officer, Swansea University

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Schedule22 May 2024