Is it an easy test for the patient to do? Are there any conditions that interfere with it?
It’s a very easy test and there’s no pain at all. It’s about a tablespoon full of clear liquid. It looks like water and we just put it in a vein. The person sits in the waiting room for thirty minutes, we bring them in, they lay in a scanner for ten minutes and you’re done. With MRI scans, people get a little claustrophobic in there and have problems with it. This is done in what looks like a CAT scanner that’s nice and open. The other issue is that the previous PET scans we had relied on metabolic activity. If someone wouldn’t sit still, you couldn’t sedate them because it would change their metabolic activity. If they had depression, there were problems interpreting the scan because depression alone would affect the scans. And the medications we were using could affect the PET scans that were looking at metabolism. This new scan isn’t affected by any of those issues so the person can come in there and can go to sleep. If they’re not able to sit still, their loved one can be standing there with them, or we can sedate them. It doesn’t matter if they’re on any medications or not they don’t interfere with this. We haven’t found anything so far that interferes with this and so it’s a very robust test in that regard. It’s very easy to perform and very easy on the patient with no pain at all.
So there are a lot of possibilities then?
Dr. Schulz: It’s incredible. I don’t even know the right English word for it. Breakthrough doesn’t even fully express it: it’s something more. Even revolutionary doesn’t capture it and is a little trite. For someone who has worked on this disease for many years, it’s chilling: for the first time, we can see what is happening in someone’s brain. Up till now, it has been like studying a black box where we just had to infer what was going on inside. Now, for the first time, we can see and study what is happening. This should have a great impact on our ability to care for patients with Alzheimer disease by helping develop cures for this terrible disease.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Department of Neurology Administrator Coordinator
Memorial-Hermann Texas Medical Center