While Alzheimer's has long represented an enormous potential market for drug developers, the field has been plagued for decades by some vexing scientific challenges. There often seems to be more about Alzheimer's that's not known, and one of the biggest challenges has been the clear identification of a common biomarker clinicians look for when they want to diagnose the memory-wasting ailment. Until now, a definitive diagnosis could only be reached after patients died and their brains were studied for telltale signs.
In an in-depth article, the New York Times reviews the work of Dr. Daniel Skovronsky, the CEO of Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, who may have come up with a new technology to identify the high concentrations of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain that is found in Alzheimer's. His team at Avid developed a radiotracer--18F-AV-45--that can stain the plaque with a radioactive tracer that can be picked up by PET scanners. And on May 14 the company came up with the data the FDA was demanding by demonstrating that the plaque biomarker stained in the brain was the same plaque found in Alzheimer's patients. Dean Wong, a professor of radiology and psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, undertook the trial.
"This is the first time we've been able to get results like this with a compound that can travel beyond the confines of a major academic medical center to the majority of the U.S. population," Wong told RTT News.
Avid's success revolves around Skovronsky's idea that you could use fluorine 18 to make the dye, a material that could be made in the morning and used in the afternoon. That epiphany allowed Avid to overcome challenges presented by other dyes.
"This is going to have a big impact on Alzheimer's disease, guys," Skovronsky told his team.