The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease is currently made by clinical exam and suspicion, spinal fluid markers, and for those who can afford it, PET scan with Amyvid (an imaging tool that lights up amyloid in the brain). PET with Amyvid can predict the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease as long as 17 years before any onset of clinical symptoms. This allows for early intervention and the change in the course of the disease. Its use is largely limited to academic centers because of the great expense and expertise needed to interpret it.
A recent US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance of a new tool using MRI scanners will be a great step forward in early diagnosis. A software platform analyses neuromelanin-sensitive MRI scans. Neuromelanin (NM) that is located pre-synaptically (a point of contact between two nerve cells called neurons) is thought to be a large factor in the etiology of neurodegenerative disorders.. Not only might this NM imaging tool be valuable for the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease, but it also may be a biomarker for other neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson’s Disease (PD).
This new imaging app is a game changer because of the automation and standardization allowing clinicians to obtain an interpretation of neuromelanin MRI. The company that produces it claims it will be able to integrate into existing systems at hospitals and imaging centers. Accessibility to such a tool that allows for early diagnosis of neurodegenerative disorders will lead to early initiation of therapy and hopefully improved patient outcomes.
BeCare Neuro Link can also help screen for early signs of cognitive impairment and other neurologic impairment, signaling when this test or other evaluation is warranted.