A new way of identifying the protein tau – a hallmark of dementia – in the brain has shed light on how the disease develops.

This is according to new research presented today (Wednesday 17 July 2013) at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

Researchers carried out PET scans on people with Alzheimer’s and people without the condition who were of the same age. Firstly they were injected with [C¹¹]PBB3 which has recently been developed to highlight tau (a protein already known as a hallmark in the development of Alzheimer’s). They also injected [¹¹C]PIB, which is known for binding to beta-amyloid – another hallmark of Alzheimer’s – and scanned again.

The study conducted by Hitoshi Shimada of Japan’s National Institute of Radiological Sciences found that PET imaging revealed high levels of [C¹¹]PBB3 in different areas ofthe brain to [¹¹C]PIB. The tau-binding agent spread to large areas of the brain in those with Alzheimer’s and the area covered and degree of concentration correlated with the participants’ severity of the disease.

Alzheimer’s Society comment:

‘The tangling of tau protein in the brain has been considered a key part of the development of Alzheimer’s disease for some time. This study improves our picture of tau’s role in dementia, and could help clinicians better understand the onset of the condition.

‘However, more research is needed for the details of this process to become clearer and for us to truly understand how the build up of both tau and amyloidplay a part in dementia and can be exploited in developing treatments.’

Fuente:Dr Doug Brown
Director of Research and Development
Alzheimer’s Society


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