Published on February 11, 2013 at 4:11 AM
At the 7th Human Amyloid Imaging conference held last month in Miami, Florida, 250 experts discussed the hottest topics in Alzheimer's disease brain imaging. What's in store for 2013? Compounds that image tau—one of the disease's toxic brain proteins—sat front and center. These tracers may soon allow scientists to scan a person's brain for tangles, the partners in crime with amyloid plaques. Scientists can already see plaques in the brain using amyloid imaging compounds. The FDA approved one of those amyloid tracers for clinical use last year, and in Miami an expert panel proposed guidelines for their use. With these ground rules, the panel hope to ensure responsible use of these scans, which are not, as some might mistakenly believe, a clear-cut "Alzheimer's test."
Though the FDA has accepted only one amyloid imaging ligand for clinical use so far, several more are being used in research studies. These agents light up scans at different intensities, making direct comparison impossible. At the meeting, an inventor of this technology proposed a way to merge the values into one standard unit. This "centiloid" scale could give experts a common language to use across labs and between studies.