An optical, and non-invasive, method of detecting metabolic changes associated with the earliest stages in disease has been developed by a team at Tufts University. The approach involves the fluorescence of two important coenzymes - nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD). The team looks at three parameters: the ratio of FAD to NADH, the fluorescence "fade" of lasered NADH, and the organization of the mitochondria as revealed by the spatial distribution of NADH within the cell. According to team leader Irene Georgakoudi, "Taken together, these three parameters begin to provide more specific, and unique metabolic signatures of cellular health or dysfunction."
Looking closely at disease