Wednesday, September 5, 2012

New PET tracer for Alzheimer's holds promise

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by Loren Bonner , staff writer
A Siemens Healthcare research team has moved forward in testing a new PET imaging agent that may be used to detect Alzheimer's disease in patients.

Study results published in the August issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease show that the PET tracer [18F]-T808 selectively targets neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) of tau protein — a diagnostic biomarker for Alzheimer's disease.
"Efforts have been going on internally in my group for almost two years," Hartmuth Kolb, vice president of biomarker research at Siemens, told DOTmed News. "We have made around 800-900 compounds and two compounds, T807 and T808, have been the most promising."

Kolb led the research team, which designed, synthesized and tested these compounds in order to identify [18F]-PET tracers that possess strong binding affinity and selectivity toward these protein tangles.

Intercellular tangles of tau protein are one of two critical protein abnormalities associated with Alzheimer's disease, the other is amyloid plaque. Both pathologies are considered to be targets for therapeutic intervention, in addition to being biomarkers for diagnostic in vivo imaging agents, according to a statement from Siemens.

Kolb said NFTs could be an additional imaging biomarker for Alzheimer's because they can point to the degree of cognitive impairment and neuronal circuitry deterioration associated with Alzheimer's and dementia. Amyloid plaque build-up cannot provide these particulars.

"The expression of tau is more in synch with the actual symptoms of dementia," Kolb told DOTmed News. "Amyloid might be useful for early detection and tau might be useful for measuring the progression of the disease."

PETNET Solutions, a Siemens subsidiary, entered a deal last November with Eli Lilly & Company to manufacture and distribute Amyvid, an amyloid plaque PET imaging agentapproved by the FDA in April.

"The world has room for both and they both have different applications," said Kolb.

Siemens supported the tau protein research in its entirety and is leading the development of the [18F]-labeled compound as a potential PET imaging agent for commercialization. According to Kolb, clinical trials in human patients began a month ago at the University of California, Irvine.

"It looks like our hypothesis in ex vivo is also panning out in vivo, so it's promising."

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