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The World in Medicine
April 20, 2005

Imaging Alzheimer Disease

JAMA. 2005;293(15):1848. doi:10.1001/jama.293.15.1848-d

Amyloid plaques, a hallmark of Alzheimer disease, often appear years before the onset of symptoms. Imaging these protein deposits could offer the means for early diagnosis and treatment of patients, but because no noninvasive technique has been available to confirm their presence, detecting plaques typically occurs at autopsy.

Now, Japanese scientists have reported that a new imaging technique can detect amyloid plaques in living mice. The researchers developed a nontoxic tracer that attaches to amyloid plaques in the brain and injected it into genetically altered mice that express amyloid protein. When they scanned the mice using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the tracer highlighted areas containing amyloid.

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