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New Test Could Help Detect Alzheimer’s Disease

Who should get it?

This new test should provide a clear benefit “in terms of accuracy of diagnosis,” says P. Murali Doraiswamy, M.D., a professor of psychiatry and geriatrics at Duke University Medical Center who was involved in Avid’s study of the new tracer. He believes it will prove a “game changer” when it comes to diagnosing the disease and getting patients started on treatments earlier.

Longer life, better studies

A study published last year by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis used the earlier Pittsburgh tracer on a small group of patients and found that mentally normal older adults with a positive amyloid scan were more likely than those without amyloid plaques to develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

The finding suggests the plaques are not benign, but it needs to be replicated in larger study groups, says Anne Fagan, a neuroscientist at Washington University and coauthor of this and other key work on the disease. Longer-lasting tracers than the Pittsburgh agent—like Avid’s new agent—could make those studies possible.

Katharine Greider lives in New York and writes about health and medicine.

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