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Novel PET agent breaks through in Alzheimer’s diagnosis

(PSYCHIATRIC TIMES) - A new PET agent could help neuroimagers accurately tell the difference between the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients and those of healthy aging individuals, according to a study published in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

The accumulation of amyloid plaque represents the most typical neuropathological hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. PET, with the aid of radiopharmaceutical agents that bind to amyloid plaque, is the leading imaging technique for the detection of such dementia markers. But a definitive diagnosis is usually made only on autopsy. Diagnosing the onset of Alzheimer's while patients are still alive remains an evasive achievement, since healthy aging individuals can also develop amyloid deposits.

The agent 11C-BF-227 could prove more specific than other compounds used for in vivo detection of amyloid plaque in Alzheimer's patients, according to investigators led by Yukitsuka Kudo from Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan.

Kudo and colleagues first tested the properties of 11C-BF-227 binding in the brain of a man with Alzheimer's confirmed by autopsy and in transgenic lab mice in vivo. They later enrolled 10 patients with Alzheimer's and 11 healthy subjects as controls who underwent PET imaging after injection of 211 MBq to 366 MBq of the agent. The investigators gauged the regional standardized uptake value and the ratio of regional to cerebellar SUV of 11C-BF-227. They found that the brains of Alzheimer's patients retained the tracer, but those of normal subjects did not (J Nucl Med 2007;48:553-561).

Pittsburg Compound B, or PIB, has been shown to be the most successful amyloid imaging agent we have so far. Data show high PIB uptake particularly in the frontal and parietal cortices of the striatum. The Japanese study, on the other hand, showed higher retention of 11C-BF-227 in the temporoparietal-occipital region.

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