The researchers used the new scanning method to find and measure amyloid protein plaques in the brain, which in turn allowed them to chart the progression (or lack thereof) in patients under observation.
So what makes this newly-developed scan different from a regular PET scan? There’s actually a single, principle difference – the newly-developed scan uses a different imaging agent than a regular PET scan. It binds to deposits of naturally occurring beta-amyloid proteins in the brain, which makes them easier to spot.
You may be asking what difference the early identification of a neurodegenerative disease that has no cure makes for patients, and the answer is that spotting Alzheimer’s 15 years before symptoms begin to emerge allows preventive lifestyle action to be taken. Furthermore, another benefit of early detection is that patients will be able to use new medications and therapies as and when they come out.
Researchers believe that the new technology will allow them to develop new medications and therapies that actually diminish the effects of Alzheimer’s significantly enough for patients to maintain adequate cognitive function.
Plaques that build up within the brain, known as tau and amyloid, are believed to trigger Alzheimer’s when they are found in combination, however in a further development to the brain scan, a new drug called Aducanumab has been shown to significantly reduce the proliferation of amyloid plaques within the brain.
Both of the new developments have researchers very excited about the possibility that Alzheimer’s disease will be consigned to the history books in years to come.