For the first time ever, neuroscientists have been able to track the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. This major medical advancement is thanks to PET scans, which highlight proteins associated with Alzheimer’s. This breakthrough could lead to early diagnoses and improved Alzheimer’s treatments!
Researchers at the University of California Berkley have used positron emission tomography (commonly known as PET scans) to trace Alzheimer’s disease within the brain. They have sought two key proteins associated with Alzheimer’s, known as “tau” and “beta amyloid”.
PET scans have also allowed researchers to track Alzheimer’s disease within cognitively normal adults, a development which could lead to the early diagnosis of this crippling neurodisorder. “This opens the door to the use of PET scans as a diagnostic and staging too”, said lead research Dr Willian Jagust.
Currently, ‘Braak Staging’ helps clarify the development of Alzheimer’s disease. However, this can only be performed when the brain is being autopsied. “Our study is the first to show the staging in people who are not only alive – but who have no signs of cognitive impairment”, explained Dr Jagust.
As Science Daily points out, ” while a number of symptoms exist that signal Alzheimer’s disease, a definitive diagnosis has been possible only through an examination of the brain after the patient has died… (Now PET scans can be) used to detect early signs of disease by looking at cellular-level changes in organs and tissue”.