Shalom Life | May 24, 2015

New Infrared Light May Help Fight Tay Sachs

Technology could shed light on disease common among Ashkenazi Jews.

By: Bev Spritzer

Published: September 3rd, 2010 in News » World

New Infrared Light May Help Fight Tay Sachs

A technique using near infrared light enables scientists to look even further into cells, potentially opening a door in the fights against cancer and many other diseases, such as Tay Sachs.

Tay Sachs, most common among Jews of Eastern European dissent, is a recessive genetic disorder that causes the deterioration of mental and physical abilities beginning when an infant is six months old. If both parents happen to be carriers, there is a 25% risk of giving birth to a child affected with Tay Sachs disease, which typically results in the child’s death by the age of four.

To get to the bottom of things, chemists from the University of Central Florida, led by Professor Kevin Belfield, used near infrared light and fluorescent dye to take pictures of cells and tumors deep within tissue, Science Daily reported.

The chemists specifically targeted lysosomes, which act as a cell’s thermostat and waste processors, and which have been linked to a variety of diseases, including types of mental illnesses and cancers.

"This is a game-changer," said Belfield. "Until now, there was no real way to study lysosomes because existing techniques have severe limitations. But the probe we developed is stable, which allows for longer periods of imaging."

Current imaging probes work for only a few minutes. They cannot infiltrate deep tissue, are sensitive to pH levels and have poor water solubility. Belfield's technique gets around these issues by using near infrared light.

Once the researchers identified the correct light frequency, Science Daily reported, they were able to take images of the lysosomes for hours at a time, thereby allowing them to piece together the lysosome’s role in diseases like Tay Sachs.

"We've come up with something that should make a huge difference in finding answers to some very complicated conditions," Belfield said.

Tay Sachs disease is named after British ophthalmologist Warren Tay, who first described the retina changes associated with the disease (red spot on the retina of the eye) in 1881, and the American neurologist Bernard Sachs of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York who described the cellular changes of Tay-Sachs, and noted the increased prevalence among the Eastern European Jewish population, in 1887.

In fact, all patients with Tay Sachs disease possess this characteristic red spot at the back of the retina, which proves to be helpful with the initial diagnosis.

The development of improved testing methods over the years has allowed neurologists to diagnose Tay Sachs and other neurological diseases with greater precision, but Tay Sachs specifically can be misdiagnosed at first, because many clinicians are not aware that it is not exclusively a Jewish disease.

Belfield's findings, which include comparisons to the only other two imaging probes on the market, are published in this month's Journal of the American Chemical Society, a prestigious chemistry journal. The project has been funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.

Israel in Top 10 Countries for Gay Men Israel in Top 10 Countries for Gay Men TrendingCanadian Holocaust Survivor Recognizes Himself in Online Photo Canadian Holocaust Survivor Recognizes Himself in Online Photo TrendingSeven Ways to Celebrate a Meaningful Shavuot Seven Ways to Celebrate a Meaningful Shavuot Trending
 

Israeli Makes Eurovision Finals for First Time in 5 Years

May 22, 2015 | By Shaleni McBain
Israeli Makes Eurovision Finals for First Time in 5 Years

'Golden Boy' Nadav Guedj hopes to live up to his name

Read More

Israeli Companies Make Gartner's Innovative 'Cool Vendors' List

May 22, 2015 | By Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels
Israeli Companies Make Gartner's Innovative 'Cool Vendors' List

18 out of 350 companies selected by leading American IT research firm Gartner are from the Holy Land

Read More

Jewish Community Center Cancels Marijuana Art Classes

May 22, 2015 | By Shaleni McBain
Jewish Community Center Cancels Marijuana Art Classes

Class that welcomed cannabis usage at Aspen Community Center in Colorado quickly nixed

Read More

Israel in Top 10 Countries for Gay Men

May 22, 2015 | By Shaleni McBain
Israel in Top 10 Countries for Gay Men

Country ranks #7 on the happiness index

Read More

Canadian Holocaust Survivor Recognizes Himself in Online Photo

May 22, 2015 | By Daniel Koren
Canadian Holocaust Survivor Recognizes Himself in Online Photo

Yehuda Danzig of Toronto was stunned when he came across a pic of himself and his younger brother while reading The Times of Israel

Read More

Seven Ways to Celebrate a Meaningful Shavuot

May 22, 2015 | By Maayan Jaffe, JNS.org
Seven Ways to Celebrate a Meaningful Shavuot

Here are a few ways to infuse some meaning and minhag (tradition) into your Shavuot this year

Read More

WATCH: Israeli, Muslim Footballers Unite For "One World, One Ball"

May 22, 2015 | By Daniel Koren
WATCH: Israeli, Muslim Footballers Unite For "One World, One Ball"

"Play the ball, not the state," say soccer players of various ethnicities to FIFA in new video

Read More

Obama: Our Commitment to Israel is Unshakeable

May 22, 2015 | By Daniel Koren
Obama: Our Commitment to Israel is Unshakeable

The U.S. President also spoke of the need a two-state solution on the inaugural "Solidarity Sabbath" in D.C.

Read More

More Headlines