Announcing Joint Initiative for Tau Imaging

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The Hope Center for Neurological Disorders and the Knight Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center are pleased to announce a joint initiative: Tau imaging in the course of Alzheimer’s disease.

Pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer disease include accumulations of neurofibrillary tangles as well as accumulations of extracellular amyloid beta (Aβ).  The temporal pattern of Aβ accumulation is largely understood, thanks to the Pittsburgh B (PiB) imaging compound that binds Aβ and can be seen using positron-emission tomography (PET), even years before symptom onset.  A recently published study by Knight ADRC and Hope Center investigators took advantage of PiB imaging to show that Aβ deposition in the brain can be detected at least 15 years before symptom onset in persons destined to develop Alzheimer disease because they have a gene mutation that causes the disorder (Bateman et al., N Engl J Med 2012; 367:795-804).

In contrast to patterns of Aβ deposition, little is known about the accumulation of neurofibrillary tangles.  Here, we announce a collaborative effort between the Hope Center and the Knight ADRC to test a marker for in vivo imaging of tau, generated by Avid Pharmaceuticals.  Additional funding is being provided by the BJHF/ICTS Clinical and Translational Service Research Award Program.  By using this marker in a well-characterized cohort of volunteers recruited from the Knight ADRC, we hope to better understand how the timing of tau deposition compares to changes in the level of tau in CSF, how it compares to other changes in the brain (e.g., hippocampal atrophy and cerebral hypometabolism), and how it relates to changes in Aβ in CSF and brain.

The molecular imaging of neurofibrillary tangles is a new frontier for research in neurological disorders, and we look forward to sharing our progress.

Posted on February 12, 2014
Posted in: Neurodegeneration, News