UCLA scientists fine-tune probe for early Alzheimer's detection
September 25, 2012
2 min read
UCLA RESEARCH ALERT
In the Alzheimer's brain, hard plaques accumulate between the nerve cells, while twisted fibers grow inside the nerve cells. The plaques arise from protein fragments called beta amlyoid, and the fibers form from a protein called tau.
Doctors rely on brain scans to detect amyloid and tau and provide early intervention and treatments that potentially slow or reverse disease progression. But how exactly the imaging agents work that scan the Alzheimer's brain has not been known. Now, new UCLA study reveals the physical mechanisms that allow these chemical agents to bind to and detect amyloid beta plaques and tau tangles in the brain.
The discovery will speed the development of new imaging agents, enabling quicker diagnosis and earlier treatment.
Kendall Houk, the Saul Winstein Professor of Organic Chemistry in UCLA's College of Letters and Sciences, and Jorge Barrio, distinguished professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, are available for interviews.
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences publishes the findings online during the week of Sept. 24 in its early edition.
The study was supported by funding from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.
Color images of probes illuminating parts of the living brain are available upon request.