Health

Team Uses Copper to Image Alzheimer's Aggregates in the Brain

A proof-of-concept study conducted in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease offers new evidence that copper isotopes can be used to detect the amyloid-beta protein deposits that form in the brains of people living with – or at risk of developing – Alzheimer’s.

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A proof-of-concept study conducted in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease offers new evidence that copper isotopes can be used to detect the amyloid-beta protein deposits that form in the brains of people living with – or at risk of developing – Alzheimer’s.

Several types of isotopes give off positively charged particles called positrons that are detectable by positron emission tomography scanners. The copper isotope used in the study, Cu-64, lasts much longer than the carbon or fluorine isotopes currently approved for use in human subjects, researchers report. Having access to longer-lasting diagnostic agents would make the process of diagnosing Alzheimer’s more accessible to people who live far from major medical centers. Any clinic with a PET scanner could have the agents shipped to it in time to use the compounds in brain scans of patients living nearby.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers report their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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