RSNA: Alzheimer’s study nets research award

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CHICAGO—This year’s winners of the Alexander R. Margulis Award for Scientific Excellence, presented annually by the RSNA to recognize the best scientific article published in Radiology, are Jeffry W. Prescott, MD, PhD, and his colleagues for their work investigating the brain’s structural connectome in the context of Alzheimer’s disease.

The paper, “The Alzheimer Structural Connectome: Changes in Cortical Network Topology with Increased Amyloid Plaque Burden,” leverages data from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative to identify differences in the structural connectome between patients with normal cognition, mild impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.

“One of our main goals was to use this data to investigate how early structural changes occur in the brain, and to determine if we are able to detect structural changes over time,” said Prescott, a radiology resident at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., in a statement. “Dementia has many different symptoms, and people decline at different rates. Neuroimaging is the best technique to investigate why those rates of decline are different.”

Correlating structural changes on diffusion tensor images with the amount of beta amyloid plaque identified by PET imaging, Prescott and colleagues showed a strong association between florbetapir uptake and decreases in strength of the structural connectome in the areas studied.

“This type of analysis could have substantial impact on trials of Alzheimer's disease therapies,” said Herbert Y. Kressel, MD, editor of Radiology.  “Specifically, biomarker information, including the integrity of the connectome, might be studied to reduce development times for new drugs, diminish costs associated with clinical trials, improve drug safety and optimize drug efficacy.”