A new drug to detect beta amyloid – one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s - could help doctors to diagnose the disease earlier according to new research.
The phase three study, which is being discussed at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting, involved carrying out PET scans using the new drug florbetaben as a tracer and MRI scans on more than 200 end-of-life patients (with and without dementia).
Plaque levels were then taken from autopsies in 246 brain regions of the 31 people who died during the trial and compared to their earlier scans. This included 60 brain region autopsies from healthy volunteers.
The results showed using florbetaben to detect beta-amyloid successfully identified 77 per cent of the positive diagnoses and 94 per cent of the negative diagnoses.
Alzheimer’s Society comment:
‘Finding ways to increase the number of early and accurate diagnoses is essential if we are to ensure people have access to vital treatments, support and information. Yet at the moment, only 43 per cent of people with the condition ever get a diagnosis, meaning hundreds of thousands of people are left struggling alone in the dark.
‘This drug research looks positive but was carried out in people with later stage Alzheimer’s. We will need to see if it can be converted into a useable and cost effective diagnostic tool to detect very early signs. Last month, David Cameron committed to doubling funding for dementia research. We must now ensure this money helps improve the lives of people living with the condition today and takes us towards a cure for tomorrow.’