Diagnostic Tool for Early Detection of Brain Disease Risks and Cancer

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Jon P. Dobson
Keith D. White
Mark R. Davidson
Yunmei Chen
Managed By
Zahara M. Jaffer
Assistant Director 352-392-8929
Patent Protection
US Patent 9,767,552

Detects Small Amounts of Iron in the Brain Facilitating Early Detection and Treatment of Neurodegenerative Diseases

This diagnostic software/hardware tool detects unusual iron deposits in the living human brain and other tissue. These deposits may indicate risk for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, before symptoms occur. Early treatment of neurodegenerative diseases is particularly important because areas of the brain may already be irreparably damaged by the time symptoms appear. Alzheimer’s disease, for example, is the most common cause of dementia, affecting more than 35 million people worldwide in 2010. The effects of Alzheimer’s are both devastating and life-altering for patients and their families, and the global cost of Alzheimer’s disease is estimated at $315 billion annually. The “gold standard” for diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is post-mortem examination of the brain. It has been shown that the identification of abnormal iron in brain tissue can be an indicator of Alzheimer’s risk. Researchers from the University of Florida have developed a tool that uses MRI technology to detect minute abnormal iron deposits in the living brain, leading to early detection of risk for neurodegenerative diseases. This tool could lead to earlier treatment and improved patient outcomes and may have application in other diseases, such as metastatic cancer detection.


Diagnostic tool for risk of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease


  • Provides the first effective test for early identification of people at risk for developing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, providing an exclusive market advantage for testing
  • Applies to various neurodegenerative diseases, providing multiple market opportunities
  • Identifies high-risk individuals, enabling early detection and treatment
  • Can be incorporated into most MRI platforms, facilitating the transition to various markets


Researchers at the University of Florida have developed a tool to detect unusual iron oxide nanoparticles that form in association with neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Researchers have found indications that abnormal iron oxides may be formed early in the Alzheimer’s disease process, possibly due to a malfunction of the normal iron-storage protein, ferritin. The software/hardware package developed by UF researchers carefully locates very small abnormal signals that are often dismissed in MRI radiology interpretations. By incorporating an uncommon imaging modality with advanced image analysis, the detection of risk for neurodegenerative diseases is maximized. The technology can be incorporated into most MRI platforms, allowing for the fluid transition of the system into various markets.