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Alzheimer's Patients Could Be Diagnosed Much Earlier

The presence of beta-amyloid plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's patients has generally been assessed by autopsy.  But a new contrast agent from Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, called florbetapir, has recently proved successful in helping radiologists identify the plaques in living patients through PET scans.

 

Florbetapir with PET imaging shows beta amyloid plaque in the brain.: image via medgadget.comFlorbetapir with PET imaging shows beta amyloid plaque in the brain.: image via medgadget.com

 

The study included 35 subjects who were thought to be dying, and 74 younger, healthy individuals between 18 and 50.  Twenty-nine of the dying patients underwent florbetapir-PET imaging during the last six months of their lives and their brains were autopsied after death.  In 28 of the 29 subjects, the florbetapir-PET identification of beta-amyloid plaque correlated with the amyloid pathology tested at autopsy.

No beta-amyloid plaque was found in the PET scans of the 74 healthy persons tested.

The study's authors, writing in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, believe that florbetapir will enable radiologists to identify the presence of beta-amyloid plaques in persons' brains "when the symptoms are quite mild, and many years before their death."

Though there are concerns about other factors which may be relevant to the disease, the presence of amyloid aggregates would indicate that a patient is certainly at increased risk for Alzheimer's.

 

via Medpage Today