A Brain Imaging Technique That's Better at Diagnosing Alzheimer's

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In an international study, researchers in Sweden, the United States, and South Korea used a new brain imaging method to detect the spread of specific tau protein deposits in the brain that are unique to Alzheimer's disease. Tau — one of two proteins linked to Alzheimer’s — forms tangles that spread throughout the brain during later stages of the disease.

This study involved 700 people in memory clinics in Lund-Malmö, Sweden, San Francisco, and Seoul. The researchers infused intravenous tau markers in the subjects and then used positron emission tomography (PET scan) to detect tau proteins in the brain. The tau-PET scan method detected more than 90 percent of all Alzheimer’s cases and produced few false-positive results. It was more accurate than the most commonly used diagnostic tools for Alzheimer’s — an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or a beta-amyloid PET scan, according to the researchers. Beta-amyloid is the other protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

These study results are significant because they could be used to develop new drugs to stop the spread of tau proteins in the brain. Also, Alzheimer’s is difficult to diagnose, and the correct diagnosis is important. Early interventions such as medication and lifestyle measures like diet and exercise can help optimize cognitive ability in people with the disease.

Sourced from: JAMA