Brain scan may detect Alzheimer’s early
Japanese scientists have developed an innovative brain imaging technique that can detect the build-up of a destructive protein named tau that is closely linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease that starts developing in the brain years before patients actually experience any symptoms. At that point, drug therapy is usually too late. Also, scientists currently cannot make a definite Alzheimer’s diagnosis until a patient has died and an autopsy is performed.
Researchers, lead by the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Chiba, believe the protein tau is what prematurely kills brain cells. To detect the tau, the team developed a chemical that could bind to the tau and then be found during a brain scan. Using positron emission tomography, tests on mice and people with suspected Alzheimer’s showed that the technology could detect the tau.
If the technique proves to be effective, it may aid doctors in providing an accurate early diagnosis, monitoring the disease’s progression and assessing the impact of treatments.