Brain Imaging and Drug Development Highlight International Alzheimer’s Conference

By John Lugo

Overhead shot of the annual conference that took place in Copenhagen, Denmark, this month. Courtesy of the Alzheimer's Association International Conference

Progress in examining the brain and developing a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease was revealed at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, this month.

A new method for brain imaging can identify tau tangles in living humans. Till now, tau tangles — which, along with amyloid plaques, are indicators of Alzheimer’s disease — could only be uncovered after death during examination of a patient’s brain.

“We’ve been able to see amyloid plaques for a few years, but now we can see tau, meaning that we are close to seeing the whole cascade of pathology of Alzheimer’s,” says George Vradenburg, founder and chairman of USAgainstAlzheimers. “This is extremely significant, as it permits us to look at the living brain, diagnose, and see the real signs of Alzheimer’s in the person affected by this dreadful disease.”

Also announced at the conference were results from Phase 2 studies on the Alzheimer’s drug crenezumab. The studies showed the drug can slow the rate of cognitive decline possibly by one-third when the disease is treated early. The drug is undergoing further review in the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative in Colombia.