JUN 26, 2021 9:00 AM PDT

New Imaging Technique May Allow for Earlier Detection of Neurological Disorders like Alzheimers.

WRITTEN BY: Ryan Vingum

According to research presented at the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging's 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting, a new type of brain imaging technique may help healthcare professionals identify neurological and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, earlier and with more precision than currently possible.

Specifically, researchers looked at enhancing traditional positron emission tomography (PET) image scanning, a technique often used to confirm a diagnosis such as Alzheimer’s. However, PET scans can be unreliable; an individuals’ movement during the scan can result in lower quality images, making it difficult to gather conclusive information about a neurological disease that may be affecting the brain.  

The imaging approach developed by researchers, called “super-resolution” imaging, combines traditional PET scan methods with a motion-tracking device that may help produce higher-quality images, helping physicians more confidently diagnosis neurological conditions, or even catch them early. 

Specifically, the tracking device uses a patient's movement, which normally disrupts the quality of imaging, to a physician's advantage. The tracking device records data about any movements an individual makes during a scan. 

"This work shows that one can obtain PET images with a resolution that outperforms the scanner's resolution by making use, counterintuitively perhaps, of usually undesired patient motion," said Yanis Chemli, MSc, Ph.D., candidate at the Gordon Center for Medical Imaging in Boston.

When combined with the actual PET, researchers found that the images produced were of notably higher quality than just the PET scan image alone. 

"Alzheimer's disease is characterized by the presence of tangles composed of tau protein. These tangles start accumulating very early on in Alzheimer's disease -- sometimes decades before symptoms -- in very small regions of the brain. The better we can image these small structures in the brain, the earlier we may be able to diagnose and, perhaps in the future, treat Alzheimer's disease," noted Dr. Chemli.

Source: Science Daily

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Science writer and editor, with a focus on simplifying complex information about health, medicine, technology, and clinical drug development for a general audience.
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