Whitney Palmer

Healthcare. Politics. Family.

Amyloid Imaging: The Next Frontier in Alzheimer’s Care

Published on the May 9, 2012, DiagnosticImaging.com website

By Whitney L.J. Howell

With the FDA approval last month of the radioactive diagnostic agent florbetapir, the industry continued the trend toward improved identification of beta-amyloid, the brain plaque associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Questions still exist about how best to use these tracers, but industry experts view these developments as significant positives for patient care.

Having another tracer available to use when imaging patients with suspected Alzheimer’s will also benefit providers, said Satoshi Minoshima, MD, PhD, director of the Neuroimaging and Biotechnology Laboratory at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Negative amyloid brain scan. Courtesy: Siemens

“From an imaging point of view, Alzheimer’s and radioactive tracers that target amyloid will be one of the major research efforts over the next several years,” he said. “Therapeutically, now we can see amyloid deposition in the brain, and that will help drug companies develop more effective treatments and drugs.”

As a radioactive tracer, florbetapir binds to beta-amyloid plaque to make it visible through PET scans of the brain. Under the brand name Amyvid, it is the only FDA-approved imaging agent for amyloid plaque on the market, but it’s by no means the only one on the industry’s radar screen. Last year, GE’s flutemetamol entered Phase III clinical trials, and Pittsburgh compound B (PiB) has been used in Alzheimer’s research since 2002.

It’s this growing list of radioactive tracers that has the Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM) anticipating the industry will make a greater clinical impact with Alzheimer’s, as well as other conditions. Making molecular imaging agents more readily available could open doors for more clinical research and clinical trials.

Positive amyloid brain scan. Courtesy: Siemens

“We are hopeful that this will set the stage for the approval of the many other molecular imaging agents for cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other neurological diseases that are currently in clinical trials,” SNM president George Segall, MD, said in a statement. “The more molecular imaging agents available, the more options we have for diagnosing illness and ultimately enhancing patient care.”

And, that’s what one vendor has tried to do. In April, Siemens rolled out a first-of-its-kind integrated PET diagnostic imaging system that can detect beta-amyloid in the living brain. The PET system, currently under FDA review, includes the new Biograph mCT™ PET•CT scanner, syngo.PET Amyloid Plaque neurology quantification software, and florbetapir.

To read the remainder of the article at its original location: http://www.diagnosticimaging.com/nuclear/content/article/113619/2070275


May 10, 2012 Posted by | Healthcare, Science | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Surviving in a Tough Market

Published in the June 23, 2011, DiagnosticImaging.com

By Whitney L.J. Howell

Economic times are tough even for radiologists, but attendees of the recent Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM) annual meeting heard first-hand some strategies for maintaining success.

Andy Savo, a senior imaging specialist with GE Healthcare and a frequent speaker on radiology, offered tips that can strengthen your practice when many patients are delaying diagnostic tests, says Kathy Hunt, president of the SNM’s Technologist Section.

“We asked Andy [Savo] to come and speak because we knew he would provide an upbeat message on how we can best serve our patients during these complicated times,” Hunt says. “Through is presentation, he helped our members reflect on their actions and take a look to see how they impact not only their patients, but other radiologists, as well.”

The current changes in health care present many challenges, she says, and Savo’s recommendations can guide you as you search for your place in the new playing field.

To read the entire article: http://www.diagnosticimaging.com/practice-management/content/article/113619/1888553

June 24, 2011 Posted by | Healthcare | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

MRI/PET Machines Hit Mainstream

Published on the June 8, 2011, DiagnosticImaging.com

By Whitney L.J. Howell

Design and structure improvements in PET and MRI scanners could soon alter how you practice nuclear medicine. These changes have made combining the scans for clinical treatment a possibility, according to a presentation at this week’s Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM) annual meeting in San Antonio.

The PET/MRI combination scanner first appeared in the mid-1990s in mouse-model cancer research conducted at the University of California-Davis (UC-Davis), but using it clinically has been impossible until now. Not only have MRI magnets distorted colors and images from nearby PET scanners, but there also hasn’t been enough space inside an MRI to accommodate a PET.

Those problems no longer exist. Using LCD screens instead of CRT screens in PET scanners prevents image distortion, and installing higher-performing gradients frees up space – 70 cm rather than 55 cm – to install a PET inside an MRI, says Bruce Rosen, M.D., Ph.D., radiology professor at Harvard Medical School and director of the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital. The wider space also reduces anxiety for patients who are claustrophobic.

Given these changes, companies, including Siemens and GE, are now working to commercialize combination scanners.

“It’s important that the technology is now advanced so these scans can play well together,” says Rosen, who delivered the SNM’s PET/MRI presentation. “Running tests simultaneously lets radiologists diagnose a problem and see how it’s working real-time. It can also save patients the inconvenience of having tests at different times.”

To read the rest of the story online: http://www.diagnosticimaging.com/molecular-imaging/content/article/113619/1875482?CID=rss&cid=dlvr.it


June 9, 2011 Posted by | Healthcare | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Isotope Shortage Less Severe

Published on May 5, 2011, on DiagnosticImaging.com

By Whitney L.J. Howell

The two-year medical isotope shortage plaguing nuclear medicine is over. The five reactors providing two essential isotopes are fully functional, but industry leaders hope the flush supply won’t tempt you to abandon conservation efforts to return to business as usual.

Technetium-99m and molybdenum-99 are readily available after a spate of scheduled reactor maintenance and forced shutdowns. The specter of future shortages hangs in the air, however, because the United States has no domestic isotope supplier, current reactors are old, and new ones aren’t expected until 2015.

“No one is complaining because supply is back to normal,” said Robert Atcher, M.D., immediate past president of the Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM). “Things have returned to where they were, but that can be both good and bad news if we don’t maintain the savings measures from the last few years.”

According to SNM, the recent shortage affected roughly 84 percent of radiologists. You took steps to ensure you met patient needs within an acceptable time frame – at most, Atcher said, delaying tests by 24-to-48 hours.

To read the remainder of the story online: http://www.diagnosticimaging.com/nuclear/content/article/113619/1855953

May 6, 2011 Posted by | Healthcare | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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