Siemens, UCLA use molecular imaging to study Alzheimers

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Siemens Medical Solutions will begin clinical trials for a breakthrough imaging biomarker that could potentially identify Alzheimer’s disease prior to the onset of noticeable symptoms. Siemens will collaborate with leading Alzheimer’s researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to launch a Phase I, Open Label, Single Center Safety Study of one of the first imaging biomarkers designed to identify Alzheimer’s disease pathology specifically.

UCLA researchers used innovative brain scanning technology to show that the abnormal protein deposits that define Alzheimer’s disease can be detected in mild cognitive impairment – a condition that increases the risk for developing Alzheimer’s and affects 10 to 20 million Americans. The study, which will be published in the Dec. 21 New England Journal of Medicine, employs a new diagnostic technique in which researchers use a new biomarker and positron emission tomography (PET) scanning technology to produce a three-dimensional map of functional processes in the brain. 

“With this imaging biomarker, we may not only have better early diagnosis of the disease but also the possibility of treating people to delay the onset of symptoms,” said Dr. Gary Small, researcher, professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences, UCLA, and co-inventor of the biomarker. “Our goal is to catch the disease in its earliest stages. If the technology proves successful in clinical trials, it could enable us to test new therapies and develop better drugs to manage the progression of the disease over time. It is clearly easier to protect a healthy brain than repair one that is already damaged.”

“Siemens’ clear objective is to move toward researching the causes of disease, rather than just managing the resulting conditions,” said Michael Reitermann, president of Siemens’ Molecular Imaging Division. “By aiding in the detection of diseases at much earlier stages, new imaging biomarkers may ultimately lead toward more personalized medicine.”

After the Phase I study, depending on its outcome, the company will initiate a larger multi-center clinical trial.