FDA approves GE brain imaging tool for Alzheimer's (Update)

October 25, 2013

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved a radioactive imaging chemical from General Electric to help screen patients for Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

The drug, Vizamyl, is an injection of radioactive material designed to highlight abnormal brain plaque in medical imaging scans.

Dementia caused by Alzheimer's is associated with buildup of the plaque, known as beta amyloid protein. However, it can also be found in patients who do not have neurological problems.

Vizamyl works by binding to the plaque and creating images that show up on positron emission tomography, or PET, scans of the brain.

A negative scan means there is little plaque and the cause of dementia is probably not Alzheimer's, according to an FDA release. A positive scan means the patient has at least some plaque, but does not mean they definitely have Alzheimer's. The injection is intended as one tool to help physicians identify the cause of patient's cognitive decline.

Doctors currently diagnose Alzheimer's disease by observing patients and administering physical and mental tests. The disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. and the most common form of dementia, a term for brain disorders that affect memory, judgment and other mental functions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that Alzheimer's affects 5 million elderly Americans. The agency says that figure may triple in coming years as the people born in the years after World War II age, unless more effective ways are found to prevent the disease.

Alzheimer's attacks neurons in the brain, leading to problems with memory, thinking and behavior. There is no cure for the disease, and scientists are not even sure what causes it.

Vizamyl is manufactured for General Electric Co.'s GE Healthcare division by Medi-Physics Inc. It is the second drug FDA has approved to help screen for Alzheimer's in the last two years. The FDA approved a similar drug called Amyvid from Eli Lilly & Co. in April 2012.

Explore further: Alzheimer's collaboration brings time-course to equation

Related Stories

Alzheimer's collaboration brings time-course to equation

October 3, 2013
Scientists from Western Australia and across the nation have shown the accumulation of a protein in the brain occurs 20 years before symptoms of Alzheimer's occur, in a groundbreaking study that could prove beneficial for ...

Alzheimer's plaques in PET brain scans identify future cognitive decline

July 11, 2012
Among patients with mild or no cognitive impairment, brain scans using a new radioactive dye can detect early evidence of Alzheimer's disease that may predict future decline, according to a multi-center study led by researchers ...

New imaging test aids Alzheimer's diagnosis

August 23, 2012
In research studies, scientists regularly use positron emission tomography (PET) scans to detect signs of Alzheimer's disease. Now, Washington University physicians at Barnes-Jewish Hospital are the first in Missouri to offer ...

Is it Alzheimer's disease or another dementia? Marker may give more accurate diagnosis

November 30, 2011
New research finds a marker used to detect plaque in the brain may help doctors make a more accurate diagnosis between two common types of dementia – Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). ...

Forget about plaque when diagnosing Alzheimer's Disease

April 3, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—An Australian study has shown that plaque, long considered to be the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, is one of the last events to occur in the Alzheimer's brain. This finding will impact the current debate ...

Recommended for you

Noninvasive eye scan could detect key signs of Alzheimer's years before patients show symptoms

August 17, 2017
Cedars-Sinai neuroscience investigators have found that Alzheimer's disease affects the retina—the back of the eye—similarly to the way it affects the brain. The study also revealed that an investigational, noninvasive ...

Could olfactory loss point to Alzheimer's disease?

August 16, 2017
By the time you start losing your memory, it's almost too late. That's because the damage to your brain associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) may already have been going on for as long as twenty years. Which is why there ...

New Machine Learning program shows promise for early Alzheimer's diagnosis

August 15, 2017
A new machine learning program developed by researchers at Case Western Reserve University appears to outperform other methods for diagnosing Alzheimer's disease before symptoms begin to interfere with every day living, initial ...

Brain scan study adds to evidence that lower brain serotonin levels are linked to dementia

August 14, 2017
In a study looking at brain scans of people with mild loss of thought and memory ability, Johns Hopkins researchers report evidence of lower levels of the serotonin transporter—a natural brain chemical that regulates mood, ...

Alzheimer's risk linked to energy shortage in brain's immune cells

August 14, 2017
People with specific mutations in the gene TREM2 are three times more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than those who carry more common variants of the gene. But until now, scientists had no explanation for the link.

Scientists reveal role for lysosome transport in Alzheimer's disease progression

August 7, 2017
Researchers from Yale University School of Medicine have discovered that defects in the transport of lysosomes within neurons promote the buildup of protein aggregates in the brains of mice with Alzheimer's disease. The study, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.