Alzheimer’s test brain scan hailed
Wednesday 18th September 2013, 6:11PM BST.
A new brain scan which could be used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease has been hailed by experts.
There are currently no fail-safe methods to test for the illness which affects around 500,000 people in Britain.
But researchers in Japan have developed a scan which could eventually help doctors accurately diagnose the disease.
The technology allows them to detect a protein called tau which builds up in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.
Dr Eric Karran, director of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This promising early study highlights a potential new method for detecting tau – a key player in both Alzheimer’s and frontotemporal dementia – in the living brain.
“With new drugs in development designed to target tau, scans capable of visualising the protein inside the brain could be important for assessing whether treatments in clinical trials are hitting their target.
“If this method is shown to be effective, such a scan could also be a useful aid for providing people with an accurate diagnosis, as well as for monitoring disease progression.
“Larger and more long-term studies are needed to confirm these findings and investigate how well these scans can track the build-up of tau over time.”
He added: “For results like these to be translated into a tool that would be suitable for widespread use, investment in research is crucial.
“The different forms of dementia can be extremely difficult to diagnose accurately using currently available methods, and research to improve these methods is important if we are to help people access the right care and treatments.”
Until now, it has only been possible to confirm a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s by looking at the brain after a person’s death, according to Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Researchers hope the new advances will lead to better treatment of the condition.
A spokesman for Alzheimer’s Research UK said: “This is a real step in the right direction.”