Diagnostic imaging  

Milestone in imaging of Alzheimer’s disease

8 December 2006

Chicago, USA. A key milestone in the imaging of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) has been reached through a close collaboration between radiochemists from the University of Pittsburgh and GE Healthcare. The University of Pittsburgh has started a study aimed at obtaining preliminary information on the performance of flourine-18 labelled Pittsburgh Compound B (F-18 PiB) to identify amyloid deposits in subjects with a diagnosis of AD.

Chet Mathis, Professor Of Radiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and director of the PET Facility at UPMC reports, "Early results are encouraging and we look forward to the larger multi-site trials that GE Healthcare will perform with F-18 PiB in early 2007."

The imaging of brain amyloid by carbon-11 PiB has been judged by Nature Medicine (Vol 12: 7, p767, 2006) to be one of the most significant advances in the field of AD in recent years. Multiple sites have now replicated the landmark studies reported by Klunk et al in Annals of Neurology in 2004. More recently the U.S.-based Alzheimer’s Association and GE Healthcare have funded a C-11 PIB add-on study to the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, a $60M study to determine the value of brain imaging.

Although C-11 PiB can be used for academic studies, the 20-minute half-life of C-11 and limited manufacturing access means the molecule is not suitable for widespread use as a routine diagnostic agent. F-18, with a half-life of 110 minutes, offers a much better opportunity for manufacturing and distribution.

In 2003, GE Healthcare licensed a number of compounds from the University of Pittsburgh. Proof-of-concept studies have already been performed in collaboration with GE Healthcare’s IMANET organization, leading to the selection of the lead candidate for further research. Subsequent work has focused on producing the F-18 PiB material to the quality standards necessary for clinical trial use. Don Black, Head of R&D, Medical Diagnostics commented, "Good progress is being made with the set up of the PET centres for the forthcoming trial. Recent news from the University of Pittsburgh about the first subjects injected with F-18 PIB is cause for optimism in the potential use of this agent as a future tool for both diagnosis and therapy monitoring."

Kim Gallagher, the newly appointed Head of External Affairs, R&D, Medical Diagnostics also remarked, "These are exciting times in the field of Alzheimer’s Disease. The advent of amyloid imaging agents and the wealth of pharma programmes in the area of amyloid targeted therapies, have given real hope that significant progress, in the notoriously slow field of dementia, can be made in the next decade.”

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