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  • Researchers Explore PET Diagnostic Tools for Alzheimer's
May 2003
NEW YORK, May 2 -- Public policy is lagging behind medical advances in Alzheimer's disease diagnosis, according to The Institute for the Study of Aging (ISOA) and Amersham, who are hosting a meeting here today about positron emission tomography (PET) imaging products for the diagnosis of the disease.
Meeting participants include experts on the molecular diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease from research institutions around the world and executives from the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, diagnostic and insurance industries. They will debate the clinical, economic and ethical implications of earlier and more accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and the challenges of licensing new diagnostic tools.
"Next-generation PET diagnostics could be available in as few as five years' time, transforming the diagnosis and treatment of the disease. However, currently the only FDA-accepted reference point for registering a PET Alzheimer's disease diagnostic appears to be use of autopsy as the gold standard," said Bill Clarke, MD, an executive vice president with Amersham and co-chair of the meeting.
Gary Small, MD, from the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and one of the key speakers at the meeting, said, "We know that the amyloid plaque associated with the disease starts forming at least a decade or more before symptoms are obvious. The new PET techniques we are discussing today enable us to see, for the first time, amyloid plaque in living patients, so we can now assess the pace of cell destruction in the brain's memory centers. These new PET diagnostic tools could lead to improved diagnosis and assessment of disease progression, as well as more effective therapeutic strategies."
The ISOA, established by the Estee Lauder trust, is a philanthropic organization dedicated to studying treatments for Alzheimer's disease. UK-based Amersham develops medical diagnostics and life sciences products.
A white paper based on the meeting with recommendations for action will be published in a scientific journal, the meeting organizers said.
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