Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

University of Pittsburgh imaging agent study suggests breakthrough in Alzheimer’s research

22.01.2004


Pittsburgh Compound B gives unique view of amyloid plaques in the living human brain



Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in collaboration with researchers at Uppsala University, Sweden, have laid the groundwork for a new era in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) research by completing the first human study of a compound that, through positron emission tomography (PET), enables them to peer into the brains of people with the memory-stealing illness and see the telltale plaque deposits they believe are at the root of the disease.

Alzheimer’s is a debilitating brain disease that affects memory and cognitive function in approximately 4 million Americans today and, if unchecked, will strike as many as 14 million during the next 50 years. The distinguishing factor between AD and other dementias is the formation of a protein substance called beta-amyloid, or amyloid plaque, that is believed to contribute to the death of brain cells.


Results of the study were chosen for rapid publication online in the early view section of Annals of Neurology.

According to the researchers, creation of the compound, dubbed Pittsburgh Compound B (PIB), is a significant development that may provide long-sought answers to questions of how the disease begins and grows, as well as contribute to a better understanding of how effective new drug therapies are at preventing, delaying or treating AD.

"PIB has given us a new tool to view the amount of amyloid in the brains of living Alzheimer’s disease patients," said William E. Klunk, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and co-inventor of PIB. "Using PIB, we will likely be able to follow the progression of the disease and speed the development of promising new therapies aimed at halting the build-up of amyloid in the brain."

Alzheimer’s disease, like stroke, is a significant cause of dementia in people over the age of 65. But unlike stroke, which begins with a single event, there is no way for doctors to pinpoint when the brains of people with AD begin to change, and this lack of knowledge is a real detriment when it comes to creating and testing therapies to prevent the illness.

The plaque deposits form in areas of the brain where memory and cognitive functions are carried out, while leaving areas responsible for motor functions alone. This means a person with AD can be cognitively helpless while being physically robust.

Actual visual inspection of amyloid in the brain has been the only way to make a definitive diagnosis of AD, and previously could only be done at autopsy. With PIB, the distribution of amyloid in the brains of living patients obtained with PET imaging corresponded well to that seen by pathologists at autopsy, said Dr. Klunk.

"The study clearly demonstrates that we now have a tool to detect one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease in the brains of living patients. Until now, this could only be shown at autopsy or by brain biopsy. This is a significant advance for Alzheimer research, and we look forward to the discovery of many possible uses for it, including aiding in the development of new Alzheimer therapies and possibly assisting in identifying those at high risk for the disease," said William Thies, Ph.D., vice president of Medical and Scientific Affairs for the Alzheimer’s Association.

According to the researchers, future use of the compound in the diagnosis of AD is just one area likely to be influenced by the new PIB imaging technology.

"We’re excited by the future prospects for Pittsburgh Compound B," said Chester A. Mathis, Ph.D., professor of radiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and co-inventor of PIB. "The ability to detect and quantify amyloid in the brain has the potential to impact several areas of Alzheimer’s research, including the assessment of anti-amyloid treatments under development by many major pharmaceutical companies. PIB may allow us to study the very roots of AD by assessing the extent of amyloid deposition in people years before AD symptoms appear."

"For example," added Dr. Klunk, "we will be able to study families with a genetic makeup that leads to AD in half the family members at an early age, often in their 40’s. Looking at these at-risk, presymptomatic subjects will show us if the plaques responsible for destroying the brain’s ability to think and remember are present years before the first symptoms appear, or if they accumulate over a relatively short time period."

Knowing when the plaques begin to form is a key step in researching drugs that could have a real impact on the disease, said Dr. Klunk. "We will not only find out when plaques begin to form, we will be able to see directly if a medication is preventing or reversing plaque formation over the long term."

While the trial looked at a relatively small sample, 16 patients diagnosed with probable AD and nine control subjects, the results were highly significant. PET images showing PIB retention in the AD patients revealed PIB "stuck" to amyloid in areas of the brain known to contain these plaques, but not in areas of the brain where it is known that AD patients have low concentrations of plaques. PIB was not retained in the brains of eight of the nine control subjects, raising the possibility that the remaining control was starting to develop amyloid before any symptoms of dementia were apparent.

"These results are a very strong indicator of PIB’s usefulness in providing quantitative information on amyloid deposits in the living brain," said Dr. Mathis.

In addition to Drs. Klunk and Mathis, the team included researchers from Uppsala University and PET Centre/Uppsala Imanet AB in Uppsala, Sweden; and the Karolinska Institute and Huddinge University, Stockholm, Sweden.


The study was supported by grants from the Alzheimer’s Association, the National Institute on Aging, the Swedish Medical Research Council and the Stohnes Foundation. Brain tissue was provided through the University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer Disease Research Center Brain Bank.

CONTACT:
Craig Dunhoff
Jane Duffield
PHONE: 412-647-3555
FAX: 412-624-3184
E-MAIL:
DunhoffCC@upmc.edu
DuffieldDJ@upmc.edu

Craig Dunhoff | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.upmc.edu/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Rabies viruses reveal wiring in transparent brains
19.01.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht On track to heal leukaemia
18.01.2017 | Universitätsspital Bern

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland

19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Not of Divided Mind

19.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Molecule flash mob

19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>