PET scans to diagnose Alzheimer's disease will be available someday soon, according to accumulating research showing the scans can accurately diagnose the disease.
In two studies published Monday, researchers demonstrated advances in shaping the scanning tools for routine use someday.
In one study, researchers from Banner Alzheimer's Institute in Phoenix evaluated a PET tracer called florbetapir F 18. Tracers are radioactive substances that highlight particular areas of the brain affected by a disease. Researchers found differences in the brain uptake of the tracer between three groups of people: 82 healthy people, 68 people with probable Alzheimer's and 60 people with mild cognitive impairment (considered a precursor to Alzheimer's disease). The scans showed differences large enough to distinguish between impaired and healthy brains. The authors proposed specific cutoff points that could be used to determine a positive test for brain plaques or a negative result.