Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Imaging Detects Telltale Plaques in Alzheimer's Cases: The New Technique Could Pave the Way for Early Diagnosis in Living Patients. (Pet Scans in 14 Patients)

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Imaging Detects Telltale Plaques in Alzheimer's Cases: The New Technique Could Pave the Way for Early Diagnosis in Living Patients. (Pet Scans in 14 Patients)

Article excerpt

STOCKHOLM -- A Swedish-American collaboration has discovered a novel way to directly image [beta]-amyloid plaques in living humans, signaling a new era in the ability to test potential Alzheimer's disease treatments and to diagnose patients early in the course of the illness.

The finding has generated excitement in the Alzheimer's disease (AD) research community, since there is currently no way to definitively diagnose the disease prior to death--let alone at a time when beneficial interventions might be possible. The new findings from only nine patients and five controls are very preliminary, however, and many of the detailed technical issues still must be worked out, Dr. William Klunk said at a press conference held during the Eighth International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders sponsored by the Alzheimer's Association.

Dr. Klunk, director of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, was part of the team that worked for more than 10 years to identify a nontoxic compound that would cross the blood-brain barrier and bind specifically to amyloid without binding to normal brain tissue.

The compound, 2-(4'-methylaminophenyl)-6-hydroxybenzothiazole, was dubbed the "Pittsburgh Compound," or PIB for short.

Earlier this year, Dr. Henry Engler, a neurologist at the University of Uppsala (Sweden) and his associates intravenously infused PIB into nine patients with mild probable AD and five healthy controls.

PET scans conducted for 60 minutes revealed rapid uptake and retention of PIB predominantly in the gray matter of the frontal, parietal, and temporal lobes of the probable AD subjects' brains, but not in the cerebellum. …

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