Could smart lens technology be the answer to early Alzheimer’s detection?

KIMM (Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials) has developed South Korea’s first smart lens technology to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease in its early stages. The KIMM research team worked on this project in collaboration with Yonsei University.


The Lens is Korea’s first intraocular smart lens technology that can diagnose Alzheimer’s disease in its early stages. Bioactive Materials, a popular journal in the field of biomaterials, published the results of the study.

A lens is inserted into a patient’s eye to detect biomarkers of Alzheimer’s. The lens can also detect other neurological and degenerative brain diseases. Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 50 million people worldwide. Although it develops in the human body without visible symptoms for years, the disease is usually preceded by mild cognitive impairment. 


How did scientists develop technology?

Researchers study properties of the eye that are directly related to the brain to find these biomarkers. To do this, they developed a biosensor system that uses a bioresponsive module that can detect several biomarkers in the intraocular lens. When detecting biomarkers, the system can express the signal with a special hydrogel pattern that contracts when it reacts with the target biomarker. This pattern was discovered by scientists in order to detect Alzheimer’s disease in its early stages.

Researchers identify a target biomarker by analyzing changes in the muir signal that occur when a hydrogel template is placed on a predetermined reference grid. The research team used a specific signal that was more sensitive than other methods to detect changes in the hydrogel pattern.

JaeJong Lee and Geehong Kim, two leading scientists working in KIMM’s Department of Nanoprocessing Technology, said that the development of this intraocular lens technology could help reduce social costs because it could diagnose various neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s, the most common brain disease, which can cause various social problems. According to the researchers, KIMM will continue to research the intraocular lens technology until it can be commercialized.

The research was part of the development of freeform surface nanofabrication processes, systems, and applications for non-blood disease monitoring devices.
Biomarker: A biomarker is an indicator that detects changes in amino acids, DNA, etc. in the body.
Hydrogel: Hydrogel is a gelatinous material whose main component is water.

KIMM (Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials) is a non-profit, government-funded research institute under the Ministry of Science and ICT. Since its establishment in 1976, KIMM has contributed to Korea’s economic growth through the research and development of key materials and machinery technologies. KIMM also conducts reliability tests and markets already developed technologies.

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