The buzz at SNMMI 2014

This past week, about 4,000 attendees gathered in St. Louis for the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging’s 2014 Annual Meeting. This year marked the 60th anniversary of the meeting, and as always there was plenty of ground breaking research unveiled.

Molecular imaging applications for the study of Alzheimer’s disease are one of the foremost areas of research in the field, so it’s perhaps no surprise that the SNMMI 2014 Image of the Year award went to a F-18 THK5117 PET study of neurofibrillary tangles, a hallmark sign of the neurodegenerative disease. Each year, SNMMI honors researchers with the most spectacular visual demonstration of their work, and Nobuyuki Okamura, MD, PhD, from the department of Tohoku University School of Medicine in Sendai, Japan, and colleagues were tapped this year for their groundbreaking longitudinal study using tau PET imaging to track progression of Alzheimer’s pathology compared with amyloid imaging. They were evaluating whether F-18 THK5117, an investigational radiopharmaceutical, was an effective in-vivo biomarker of Alzheimer’s pathology, and confirmed binding with tau proteins.

Another Alzheimer’s headline coming out of the SNMMI meeting is the finding that late-life depression can combine with beta-amyloid deposition to speed neurodegeneration. The study, conducted by Axel Rominger, MD, from the department of nuclear medicine at the University of Munich in Germany, and colleagues pulled international data from a worldwide dementia imaging database and found a that mild cognitively impaired subjects with depressive symptoms suffer from elevated amyloid-levels, indicating those patients have a higher risk of faster progression to Alzheimer’s disease.

Shifting to cardiac imaging, Japanese researchers have found a way to use stem-cell regeneration to prevent the after-effects of a heart attack, including long-term tissue destruction and reduced cardiac function. Takuji Toyama, MD, the study's principal researcher from the division of cardiology at Gunma Prefectural Cardiovascular Center in Maebashi, Japan, and colleagues explained the treatment involved administration of a granulocyte colony stimulating factor protein which acts upon bone marro stem cells that naturally protect heart attack patients from cardiac tissue damage. The results of the study, confirmed by a SPECT scan, showed the benefits of the treatment increased the faster it was administered after heart attack.

Be sure to check out the rest of our SNMMI 2014 coverage in Health Imaging and our sister publication Molecular Imaging.

-Evan Godt
Editor – Health Imaging