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Unraveling Alzheimer's: Clues may be found visualizing plaques in human brain, mad cowtype diseases

SAN DIEGO, Calif.--An exciting new tracer allows visualization of abnormal protein deposits--called amyloid plaques--in human diseases like Alzheimer's and Creutzfeldt-Jakob and in prion diseases in animals like scrapie (similar to mad cow disease), according to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and CHRU Tours in France. Their results were presented June 37 during SNM's 53rd Annual Meeting in San Diego.

"This amyloid tracer IMPY--which detects amyloid plaques in the human brain--provides an excellent starting point for parallel research in humans and animals," said Denis Guilloteau, a biophysics professor and radiopharmacist in the nuclear medicine department of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Tours (CHRU) in France. "With IMPY, we were able to visualize abnormal protein in both neurodegenerative diseases--Alzheimer's and scrapie--and this could provide new directions for future research," he added. There are similarities between the loss of brain function in prion diseases and in Alzheimer's disease, and an understanding of prion diseases will add to the understanding of what happens to the brain with Alzheimer's disease, explained the co-author of "IMPY, a Beta-Amyloid Imaging Probe for Prion Detection." In addition, the tracer may be used for research in the veterinary field, he noted.

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, irreversible brain disorder with no known cause or cure. Symptoms may include memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, disorientation and loss of language skills. More than 4.5 million Americans are believed to have Alzheimer's disease, and by 2050, the number could increase to 13.2 million.

Prions are abnormal, transmissible agents--with no DNA--that are able to induce abnormal folding of normal cellular prion proteins in the brain, leading to brain damage and the characteristic signs and symptoms of the disease. Prions cause a number of rare progressive neurodegenerative disorders that affect bot
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Contact: Maryann Verrillo
mverrillo@snm.org
703-708-9000
Society of Nuclear Medicine
5-Jun-2006


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