Wisconsin established the center in 2009 to focus on preclinical Alzheimer’s. Cerveau is a partnership between Enigma Biomedical Group and Sinotau Pharmaceutical Group. It was created to develop diagnostics and technology for patients with neurodegenerative diseases.
Research projects developed under the Wisconsin-Cerveau agreement will focus on neurofibrillary tangles in the brain. The tangles, made up of aggregates of tau protein, are considered a hallmark of Alzheimer’s.
Researchers want to know whether an early-stage imaging agent, MK-6240, can be used in positron emission tomography (PET) scans to evaluate the status and progression of the tangles.
A research team at the University of California, Berkeley, used PET scans for the first time in March of 2016 to depict the progressive stages of Alzheimer’s. The team also uncovered an important association between Alzheimer’s and two proteins: tau and amyloid-beta.
The study, “PET Imaging of Tau Deposition in the Aging Human Brain,” was published in Neuron.
In the past decade, many scientists have concluded that the tau protein is likely a key player in Alzheimer’s progression.
The Berkeley study confirmed that, as a person ages, tau protein accumulates in the medial temporal lobe, the area of the brain associated with memory. The research further concluded that the deposits were correlated with a decline in memory.
A key finding was that the older people are, the more tau accumulation in their brain. Another important finding was that when protein spread to other parts of the brain, there was more cognitive decline.
Under the agreement, Cerveau will support several research projects at the Wisconsin center and will supply the MK-6240.
“This collaborative tau imaging research program will provide valuable information about the rates of progression across the Alzheimer’s Disease stages from preclinical to overt dementia. We appreciate the support of Cerveau Technologies,” Sterling Johnson, associate director of the Wisconsin center, said in a press release.
“At Cerveau, we are focused on providing information and technologies to researchers and clinicians to improve brain health,” said Rick Hiatt, the president of Cerveau Technologies. “We are excited by the opportunity to work with the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and the pharmaceutical industry to provide access to this novel imaging agent to the broader scientific community.”