University of South Florida opens Alzheimers center with PET scanner

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The University of South Florida (USF) has opened the Center for Memory C.A.R.E. (Clinical Assessment, Research and Education), on the second floor of the six-story USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute, to support patients and their caregivers.

Among its features is a small-scale apartment used to assess the ability of patients with memory impairments to perform activities of daily living, such as boiling a pot of water or selecting weather-appropriate clothing. Clinical features include an onsite PET scanner that helps diagnose dementia and support drug discovery.

The Eric Pfeiffer PET Imaging Center houses the first onsite PET scanner in an Alzheimer’s facility in Florida, said David Morgan, PhD, CEO of the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute. PET imaging allows physicians and researchers to view the build-up in the brain of toxic material known as amyloid plaques years before the first signs of memory loss appear, he added.

Mounting evidence indicates that monitoring amyloid in the brain in this pre-symptomatic stage holds promise for screening those at high risk for Alzheimer’s disease, Morgan said. The center also offers support for patients and families after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.