New imaging technique in Alzheimer’s disease opens up possibilities for new drug development

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Tau PET is a promising new imaging method for Alzheimer’s disease. A case study from the University of Lund in Sweden confirms now that tau PET images correspond to a higher actual changes in the brain grade. According to the study investigators, which increases the opportunities for the development of effective drugs.

There are several different methods produce images that show changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The PET method tau reveals the presence of a protein in the brain, tau, with the aid of a gamma camera and a specially selected radioactive molecule (F-AV-1451).

Tau has an important role in assisting transport of various substances inside nerve cells of the brain function. People with Alzheimer’s disease have elevated levels of tau, leading to accumulation of the protein in brain cells and gradually to cell death.

Lund University and Skåne University Hospital are among other institutions studying patients with tau PET method for research purposes. So far, no one has precise knowledge of how well the new imaging method reproduces real changes in a brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease. The current case study, however, shows that the image and reality match well. The study has allowed researchers to compare PET images Tau and brain tissue from the same person, for the first time. The brain tissue came from a person who died recently having undergone examination with the new imaging method.

“Tau PET can improve diagnosis, but above all, the method of imaging can be of great importance in the development of new drugs for Alzheimer’s,” says Ruben Smith, a researcher at the University of Lund and physician at the University Hospital of Skåne. He continues:

“There are new drug candidates that aim to reduce the accumulation of tau. The imaging method opens up opportunities to investigate the development of the disease at a detailed level and see how tau aggregates are affected by drugs” .

“The person who was examined had a mutation that resulted in the same kind of accumulation of tau in the brain and Alzheimer’s disease. A single case study may seem insignificant, but since there are areas with a lot tau stored and others with less tau in the brain itself, is sufficient to consider a person in order to verify whether the imaging method works, “says Oskar Hansson, professor at the University of Lund and consultant at the University hospital Skane.

The interest of the research community in imaging methods focuses on tau is strong and growing. Reliable reproduction of tau protein in the brain is considered a better tool methods already in use competitive and more relevant diagnostic marker.

Study investigators are now focusing on tracking aggregation tau in the brain over time and connections with the diagnosis through spinal fluid samples.

Tau PET imaging is considered interesting for other less common, neurological diseases and dementia of the frontal lobe and the like Parkinson’s diagnoses such as PSP (progressive supranuclear palsy) and CBD (corticobasal degeneration).

The results are published in the journal Brain and the study was funded by the European Research Council (ERC), the Swedish Research Council, Swedish Fund Alzheimer’s and Fund brain Sweden, among others.

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