New Compound May Help Doctors Spot Alzheimer's Disease

A new imaging compound may help doctors in the early detection of Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's disease carries symptoms similar to other conditions, which results in missed or inaccurate diagnosis of the disease. Early, accurate detection can help patients and their families plan for the effect this progressive, degenerative, brain disease will have on their loved ones.

According to Murali Doraiswamy of the Duke University Medical Center, "Many conditions can mimic Alzheimer's, thyroid, vitamin deficiencies, depression, rarer dementias. Knowing someone doesn't have amyloid in the brain can help a clinician focus on those other conditions."

While the FDA is requiring additional research, it unanimously recommended approval of Eli Lilly's new imaging compound Amyvid. The compound would be used by radiologists to scan for levels of the protein, amyloid beta, in the brain.

But without demonstration that the images can be consistently interpreted by physicians who have received training in reading the scans, the FDA opposed its approval.

Some 5 million seniors in the U.S. are affected by Alzheimer's.

Common signs of confusion and memory loss in Alzheimer's patients are examples of how patients are affected when brain nerve cells are destroyed. Scientists are hopeful that the imaging compound will help physicians rule out the disease in some patients, even if it is not effective in diagnosing Alzheimer's disease, which will give them peace of mind and better treatment.

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