Detecting changes in the brain mght lead to earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.

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Brain imaging (MRI/PET) and measurements of proteins in spinal fluid might improve Alzheimer's prediction and diagnosis

Changes in the brain measured with MRI and PET scans, combined with memory tests and detection of risk proteins in body fluids, might lead to earlier and more accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, according to new research reported recently at the Alzheimer’s Association 2009 International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease (ICAD 2009) in Vienna.

The National Institute on Aging’s Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), data from which forms the basis of these three studies, is a US$60 million, five-year, public–private partnership to test whether imaging technologies (such as MRI and PET), other biomarkers, and clinical and neuropsychological assessment can be combined to measure progression toward Alzheimer’s.

The studies reported at ICAD 2009 were Ewers et al., ‘Biomarker based diagnosis of very mild Alzheimer's disease: a multicenter study’; Landau et al., ‘Comparing predictors of conversion: data from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative’; and Matthews et al., ‘Hippocampal glucose metabolism predicts cognitive decline and correlates to disease progression in the ADNI population’.

‘With the continued aging of the population and the growing epidemic of Alzheimer’s, early detection of the disease is crucial for risk assessment, testing new therapies, and eventual early intervention with better drugs, once they are developed,’ said Ronald Petersen, Ph.D., MD, chair of the Alzheimer’s Association Medical & Scientific Advisory Council.

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