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PET Amyvid Scan May Predict Alzheimer’s

March 11, 2014
Written by: , Filed in: Diagnostic Imaging, Neuroradiology, Nuclear Medicine
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A three-year follow-up study has found that PET brain imaging using Amyvid (florbetapir) can detect early evidence of Alzheimer’s disease and may predict cognitive decline, even among adults who display mild or no cognitive impairment.

Amyvid binds to the beta-amyloid plaques that are associated with Alzheimer’s. Lead author P. Murali Doraiswamy, MD, summarized the study’s findings this way:

Our research found that healthy adults and those with mild memory loss who have a positive scan for these plaques have a much faster rate of decline on memory, language, and reasoning over three years.

Dr. Doraiswamy is professor of psychiatry and director of the neurocognitive disorders program at Duke University. He was quoted in a Duke news release. The open-access study was published today in Molecular Psychiatry.

The study involved 152 adults age 50 or older. The subjects took cognitive tests and received PET scans with Amyvid as the radioactive dye. At the beginning of the study, 69 displayed normal cognitive function, 52 had recently been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, and 31 had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

After 36 months, the subjects were tested again (although several in each group dropped out for one reason or another). Of those who began with mild cognitive impairment, 35 percent of those with scan-revealed plaque progressed to Alzheimer’s, compared to 10 percent of those without plaque.

“Having a negative scan could reassure people that they are not likely to be at risk for progression in the near future,” Dr. Doraiswamy said.

He noted that the Food and Drug Administration has not approved Amyvid for predicting the development of dementia. “Even though our study suggests the test has predictive value in normal adults, we still need additional evidence,” he said. “We need longer-term studies to look at the consequences of silent brain plaque buildup, given that it affects 15 to 30 percent of normal older people.”

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