Amyloid plaques accumulate in the brains of patients who develop Alzheimer’s disease for years before onset. Early detection of these plaques may enable early diagnosis and also may help scientists develop better prevention methods and treatments. A recent study showed that, when used with PET imaging, a molecular imaging agent can identify amyloid plaques in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.As presented at the eighth International Conference of Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease in Salzburg, Austria, Dr. Christopher Rowe from Austin Hospital of Melbourne, Australia, and his colleagues investigated the PET scans of eight healthy elderly patients and of 10 with Alzheimer’s disease who received a dose of the radiopharmaceutical [F-18]AV-1.[F-18]AV-1 was discovered by Hank F. Kung from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and now belongs to Avid Radiopharmaceuticals Inc. The patients received an intravenous injection of the agent and underwent PET scans 90 minutes later. The scans revealed high levels of the amyloid plaques bound to the molecular imaging agent in the brains of all the patients with Alzheimer’s. However, the agent did not show up in any of the healthy patients.The researchers believe their results indicate that the [F-18]AV-1 PET amyloid imaging technique may help identify patients who may develop the disease. Early identification could help patients benefit from emerging treatments.