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Neuroimaging study may pave way for effective Alzheimer's treatments
Date:2/9/2010

nce Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The results of the survey, reported in a recent special issue of the journal Behavioral Neurology (vol. 21, Issues 1-2, 2009), may explain why patients with Alzheimer's disease have not responded to promising experimental drugs that target amyloid, and suggest that these drugs may be effective if administered earlier.

"Amyloid deposits appear to reach a plateau early in the disease course, when patients experience very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all," says Rabinovici, a recipient of new investigator awards from the Alzheimer's Association and the National Institute on Aging. "By the time patients have developed the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, clinical decline and brain changes are occurring independently of further amyloid accumulation. This suggests that we have been starting treatment too late, and that amyloid-based therapies are most likely to work very early in the disease process."

Existing drugs, such as Aricept, Exelon and Razadyne, treat symptoms but do not modify the biological progression of the disease, he says. Many treatments under development, however, target amyloid deposits in an attempt to arrest further decline. Thus far, these treatments have failed to produce a benefit in two phase III clinical trials in mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease.

PIB-PET involves injecting a tracer material known as Pittsburgh compound B (PIB) into the brain via the bloodstream, and imaging the brain with positron emission tomography (PET). PIB binds to amyloid-beta protein plaques, a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, and sends a signal that is then detected by the PET scanner and translated into an image reflecting the quantity and distribution of amyloid in the brain. In the studies surveyed, scientists complemented the PIB-PET investigations by using additional neuroimaging techniques such as magnetic resonance
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Contact: Jennifer O'Brien
jobrien@pubaff.ucsf.edu
415-476-2557
University of California - San Francisco
Source:Eurekalert

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