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Mayo researchers invent targeted imaging probe to aid early Alzheimer's diagnosis

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Mayo Clinic researchers have devised a way to produce enhanced MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) pictures of the destructive brain lesions that cause Alzheimer's disease. This advance using laboratory mice lays the foundation for the first imaging-based diagnostic test for living Alzheimer's disease patients.

The new technique is currently used only with specially-bred laboratory animals, but is expected to move to human trials if these early results are sustained. The findings will appear in the May 25th issue of the journal Biochemistry, No. 20, vol. 43, and are online now at: http://pubs.acs.org/journals/bichaw/index.html.

"We are encouraged by these results because they suggest we are close to developing an Alzheimer's disease diagnostic tool people have been waiting on for decades," says Mayo Clinic neurology researcher and principal investigator, Joseph Poduslo, Ph.D. "A simple MRI evaluation for Alzheimer's disease would ease the suffering of so many families, and hopefully, vastly improve patient-care options." Significance of the Mayo Clinic Research

The Mayo Clinic researchers have invented a nontoxic molecular probe with three desirable traits. One, it can "home in" and target the brain regions that contain the lesions known as amyloid plaques. Second, the probe's novel chemical profile enables it to cross the blood-brain barrier to reach the plaques. This barrier normally keeps blood and other body fluids from reaching the brain. Third, and the chief goal of the experiment, the probe supplies a visual contrast chemical needed to produce high-resolution MRI images in the brains of live mice -- and ultimately, in humans.

If continued testing goes well, this procedure would enable physicians to obtain an early diagnosis in living patients, and to easily follow the progression of the disease. Currently, definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer's
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Contact: Bob Nellis
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
30-Apr-2004


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