Brain dye can spot Alzheimer's

A study has found that researchers can detect Alzheimer's disease with a brain scan using radioactive dye called AV-45 or florbetapir, which was developed by Philadelphia-based Avid Radiopharmaceuticals.

In the study, patients with a life expectancy of less than six months underwent brain scans using Avid's dye, Bloomberg reports. After death, their brains were autopsied, and there was a strong correlation between plaques found in brain tissues and the places imaging suggested the protein would be, according to an abstract released at the International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Honolulu. Alzheimer's can only be confirmed in a patient after death.

"The results are very encouraging. What they show is overall there is a very nice statistically significant correlation between how bright the scan is and how much amyloid there is at autopsy," says Michael Weiner of the University of California San Francisco, who has seen the results but is not involved in the study, as quoted by the Times of India.

And the privately held company is making it available to just about anybody who needs it for research. "From the very beginning, it has been our idea to make the compound available to whoever wants it. We never say no," CEO Daniel Skovronsky, says in an interview with Reuters.

Avid is racing GE and Bayer to get approval of chemical dyes to identify beta amyloid, creating diagnostics with a potential market of $3 billion a year, according to Harry Glorikian of consulting firm Scientia Advisors, Bloomberg notes. The compound is already being used in clinical trials by both Pfizer and Eli Lilly--two of Avid's investors--as well as Bristol-Myers Squibb, Reuters reports. The National Institute on Aging has just started using it in its ADNI study looking early signs of Alzheimer's.

- get the Bloomberg report
- see the Reuters coverage
- check out the story from the Times of India