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The development of innovative imaging techniques is a key feature of the research program at IND. Imaging research at IND focuses on functional imaging technology using Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Single Photon Emission Computerized Tomography (SPECT) imaging. Using specific radioactively labeled molecules as tags or markers, in conjunction with PET or SPECT imaging offers the opportunity to view the neurochemical activity of the brain. Functional imaging with PET and SPECT imaging allows us to understand activity in the brain and subtle changes that may occur in early Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease and other neurodegenerative conditions.
The primary goals of the PET and SPECT imaging studies at IND are:
Imaging in Parkinson Disease
Over the past decade researchers at IND have developed and utilized dopamine transporter imaging in several studies to evaluate the diagnosis and monitor progression of Parkinson disease. In our studies, dopamine transporter imaging SPECT discriminated between individuals with Parkinson disease and healthy subjects with a sensitivity of about 98%.
Imaging in Alzheimer Disease
A major advancement in Alzheimer disease research has been the development of amyloid imaging. It is well recognized that individuals with Alzheimer disease have an accumulation of a protein called amyloid in the brain. Several therapies aimed at slowing the progression of Alzheimer disease by reducing amyloid deposition are being testing in clinical trials. Imaging to detect amyloid in the brain is available in research settings and provides information that is used in conjunction with clinical evaluations. Amyloid imaging may be useful in clarifying a diagnosis of Alzheimer disease and differentiating this from other forms of dementia.