Imaging Procedure Can Identify Biomarker Associated With Alzheimer Disease
PHOENIX, Ariz. (Jan.19, 2011) — Preliminary research suggests that use of a type of molecular imaging procedure may have the ability to detect the presence of beta-amyloid in the brains of individuals during life, a biomarker that is identified during autopsy to confirm a diagnosis of Alzheimer disease, according to a study in the Jan.19 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Banner Research Institute’s Banner Alzheimer’s Institute and Banner Sun Health Research Institute played a major role in the development of the diagnostic tool.
“Both diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer disease (AD) are hampered by the lack of noninvasive biomarkers of the underlying pathology. Between 10 percent and 20 percent of patients clinically diagnosed with AD lack AD pathology at autopsy, and community physicians may not diagnose AD in 33 percent of patients with mild signs and symptoms,” according to the latest Alzheimer’s literature.
The brain of a typical AD patient is markedly smaller than a healthy equivalent older adult due to the accelerated brain cell death of AD, this is confirmed at autopsy. Long been sought after is a clinically visible tool that physicians and researchers can accurately diagnose, treat and research AD, now enter florbetapir F 18. Florbetapir F 18 is a diagnostic chemical that binds with beta-amyloid and when imaged by PET shows tremendous promise visually validating the presence of AD.
Drs. Eric Reiman and Adam Fleisher headed up the team at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute and Drs. Marwan Sabbagh and Tom Beach Headed up the team at Banner Sun Health Research Institute playing a vital role in this discovery.
Both institutes recruited patients who were deemed to be nearing the end of life to be medically imaged using Florbetapir-PET imaging. Scans of these patients were then compared with measures of brain beta-amyloid that was determined by autopsy after their death. All brain autopsies for the entire clinical study were analyzed by Dr. Tom Beach, neuropathologist at Banner Sun Health Research Institute. In addition to the end of life participants other younger patents were recruited and imaged and served as a control of the study.
The results of the study were very significant. Postmortem results rated as positive or negative for beta-amyloid agreed in 96 percent for all end of life study participants while the group of younger nonautopsy participants all imaged negative for beta-amyloid.
While amyloid pathology is an essential element for an AD diagnosis, “clinically impaired function may depend, in part, on the ability of the individual's brain to tolerate aggregated amyloid. Genetic risk factors, lifestyle choices, environmental factors, and neuropathological comorbidities may alter the threshold for the onset of cognitive impairment associated with beta-amyloid aggregation.
Prospective imaging to autopsy study provides evidence that a molecular imaging procedure can identify beta-amyloid pathology in the brains of individuals during life. Understanding the appropriate use of florbetapir-PET imaging in the clinical diagnosis of AD or in the prediction of progression to dementia will require additional studies,” the authors conclude.
Avid is currently applying to the FDA for use of the imaging agent as a tool to help rule out Alzheimer’s disease, not to definitively diagnose it. Once approved researchers would have a way to figure out whether AD drugs are slowing or halting the progression of the disease.
“This definitive evidence will help us advance Alzheimer’s disease, diagnosis, treatment and research throughout the world,” said Dr. Eric Reiman, executive director of the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, director of the Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium, and one of the journal’s authors. “Among other things, it will help us find test effective treatments to prevent Alzheimer’s disease as quickly as possible, our over-riding research goal.”
About Banner Sun Health Research Institute
For 23 years, Sun Health Research Institute, part of nonprofit Banner Health, has been a leader nationally and internationally in the effort to find answers to disorders of aging including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and arthritis. The institute, together with its Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium partners, has been designated by the National Institutes of Health as one of just 29 Alzheimer’s Disease Centers in the nation. The institute’s Cleo Roberts Center for Clinical Research takes laboratory discoveries to clinical trials that foster hope for new treatments. Banner Health is Arizona’s leading health care provider and second largest private employer. For more information, visit www.shri.org and www.bannerhealth.com.
About Banner Alzheimer’s Institute
The Banner Alzheimer’s Institute is a treatment and research facility dedicated to helping patients with memory and thinking problems. It offers clinical care for patients; provides education, referral and support services for family and caregivers; and conducts leading-edge research in clinical trials, brain imaging and genetics studies. The Institute is devoted to finding effective Alzheimer’s disease-slowing and prevention treatments in the shortest time possible. Banner Alzheimer’s Institute is owned and operated by Phoenix-based Banner Health, a nonprofit organization. For more information go to www.banneralz.com.
CONTACT: Brian Browne
Ph: (623) 875-6536