The causes of Alzheimer disease and attempts to predict who is at risk for it have been confounding the medical profession ever since Dr Alois Alzheimer first described the disorder in 1906. Finally, a breakthrough in dye and imaging technology may be the key to solving the puzzle. Dr Daniel Skovronsky and his team at Avid Radiopharmaceuticals have developed a radioactive tracer dye that sticks to brain plaque and is detectable by a PET scanner.
Many people with dementia are receiving a wrong diagnosis of Alzheimer disease and, consequently, are being treated for other causes that may be contributing to memory loss. To make the diagnosis of Alzheimer disease, brain plaque needs to be present. Up until now, the only way to confirm the diagnosis was through autopsy. Now there may be a way to detect plaque in living persons.