Jan 132014
 
A Year in Review

In this first blog of 2014, I would like to review some of the highlights from the world of Alzheimer’s disease research in 2013, as well as the new directions that we will likely be heading in 2014. Advances in Brain Imaging  Advances in brain imaging, specifically amyloid PET scans, have led the way towards earlier identification of Alzheimer’s. Their widespread use in larger studies has made it possible to visualize the presence of beta-amyloid [...]

Feb 212013
 
Medicare's Decision on Whether to Cover Amyloid Brain PET Scans

Although the FDA approved florbetapir (Amyvid) in April 2012 as a tracer for PET scans in detecting brain amyloid, Medicare has not covered it. The test costs about $3,000 in total and some patients have been paying for it out of pocket. Last month, a Medicare advisory panel voted against medicare coverage for amyloid brain PET scans. Although the technology has been around for eight years, and numerous studies have shown its accuracy in detecting [...]

Jul 152011
 
Recent Developments in Amyloid Imaging

The use of positron emission tomography (PET) imaging to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease (AD) appears to be closer to becoming a clinical tool, based on results from two articles published online in the Archives of Neurology. In one study, Adam S. Fleisher, M.D., from Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix, and colleagues, evaluated PET imaging using the tracer florbetapir F 18. The study population included 68 individuals with probable Alzheimer’s disease, 60 individuals with mild cognitive impairment, [...]

Apr 212011
 
MR Study Shows That Amyloid Deposits Occur Years Before Diagnosis

High-resolution magnetic resonance (MR) imaging studies have identified characteristic changes in brain structure — thinning of key cortical regions and reduced volume of structures such as the hippocampus — in persons with mild cognitive impairment, in individuals known to carry gene mutations that directly cause Alzheimer’s disease, and in diagnosed Alzheimer’s patients. The current study, published in the Annals of Neurology, involved 87 cognitively normal older individuals and 32 patients diagnosed with mild Alzheimer’s (matched [...]

Mar 182011
 
Studies Reveal Very Early Cognitive Declines with Familial Alzheimer's Disease

Last month, researchers Francisco Lopera and colleagues reported in the journal Lancet Neurology that they were able to capture a clear decline in cognition starting in people’s early 30s in the largest-known population with autosomal-dominant (inherited) Alzheimer’s disease. They define an earlier disease stage prior to what is called pre-MCI, in effect pushing the line of detectability back toward younger ages by some four years. Two other papers go in the same direction. Last year [...]

Sep 222010
 
Brain Atrophy and B Vitamins

Brain atrophy involves the loss of neurons. Some degree of atrophy and subsequent brain shrinkage is common with old age, even in people who are cognitively healthy. However, this atrophy is accelerated in people with mild cognitive impairment and even faster in those who ultimately progress from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease. Many factors have been implicated in affecting the rate of brain atrophy, one of which is high levels of an amino acid [...]

Sep 152010
 
The Connection Between Amyloid, Tau and FYN

Readers, Amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) are the two classic hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), but the connection between their two respective proteins—beta-amyloid and tau—has remained mysterious. Now, a paper published on July 21 in the prestigious journal Cell details a molecular mechanism that links tau to beta-amyloid toxicity at the synapse. The groundbreaking new study was led by Professor Jürgen Götz and Dr Lars Ittner, based at the University of Sydney. Back in [...]

Aug 262010
 

Dear Readers, The “hippocampal theta rhythm” is a specific type of electrical activity that can be observed in the hippocampus and other brain structures in numerous species of mammals including rodents, rabbits, dogs, cats, bats and marsupials. In the oldest EEG literature dating back to the 1920s, Greek letters such as alpha, beta, theta and gamma were used to classify EEG waves falling into specific frequency ranges, with “theta” generally meaning a range of about [...]

May 102010
 

Readers, Rarely a day goes by when we do not see several news items about the role of neuro-imaging in detecting, treating or monitoring the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Here are a few comments to bear in mind as you consume the daily press. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) yields an image of brain structure and will reveal tumors, strokes and (importantly for Alzheimer’s disease) atrophy (or shrinkage) in particular parts of the brain that can [...]

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