PET Imaging Seen as Valuable Tool for Alzheimer’s Staging, Diagnostics

PET Imaging Seen as Valuable Tool for Alzheimer’s Staging, Diagnostics
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, were able to show for the first time the progressive stages of Alzheimer’s disease in healthy adults and patients with Alzheimer’s using PET scans. This shows positron emission tomography (PET) scans can be used as diagnostic and staging tools in patients suffering from the disease. Researchers also uncovered important new information about two proteins associated with Alzheimer’s pathology: tau and amyloid-beta. The research paper, “PET Imaging of Tau Deposition in the Aging Human Brain,” was published in Neuron. Alzheimer’s disease is often diagnosed when a series of symptoms emerge. However, definitive diagnosis has only been possible through post-mortem examination of the patient’s brain. This diagnostic issue has been greatly improved with the development of imaging tools that track amyloid deposition. And, in the past decade, tau protein has emerged as a hallmark of Alzheimer’s, with its deposition associated with symptom development. The stages of tau deposition were discovered by German researchers Heiko and Eva Braak through brain autopsies of suspected Alzheimer’s patients. This has become known as Braak staging. But while Braak staging was developed from autopsies, "our study is the first to show the staging in people who are not only alive, but who have no signs of cognitive impairment,” said the study's principal investigator, Dr. William Jagust, a professor at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health and at the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute and a faculty scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in a
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