Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease which affects millions of people worldwide. It is the sixth highest cause of death in the United States. In 2016, the cost of AD was close to $236 billion dollars. To date, there is no reliable method of early detection and treatment.
Current diagnosis procedures start with the evaluation of the patient’s cognitive ability and reviewing medical history. It continues with lab tests and imaging techniques to visualize the damaged brain tissue. When the damaged tissue is clearly observed by MRI and CT, it is too late to cure the disease. 
Technology Overview
This invention involves a device to detect butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), which is one of the chemicals found in the breath of AD patients. A three-layer sensor was formed through deposition of a thin layer of graphene onto a glassy carbon substrate. Selective binding of the analyte was facilitated by electrochemically-initiated polymerization of a solution containing the desired target molecule. Subsequent polymerization and removal of the analyte yielded a layer of polypyrrole, a conductive polymer, on top of the sensor containing molecularly imprinted cavities selective for the target molecule. 
Two electrochemical sensors have been fabricated to sense BHT in the air at ppm and ppb levels. The graphene sensor was tested at ppm levels and the graphene-Prussian blue sensor was tested at ppb levels. BHT was detected at a very low concentration, less than 20 ppb, the target range for sensing it in the exhaled breath of Alzheimer's patients. The developed electrochemical sensors exhibited excellent performance, such as a low limit of detection, wide range of detection, high selectivity, good stability and easy reproducibility toward sensing BHT.
- Earlier detection of Alzheimer's
- High selectivity 
- High sensitivity (ppb)
- Easy reproducibility 
- Detection of Alzheimer's
- Environmental sensing/monitoring
- License
- Partnering
- Research Collaboration
Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Mark Saulich
Associate Director of Commercialization
Northeastern University
Nian-Xiang Sun
Shadi Emam
Adam Ekenseair