Researchers: Brain imaging might diagnose Alzheimer's

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Telltale signs of Alzheimer's could be uncovered using a brain imaging method known as positron emission tomography (PET), according to Finnish investigators.

Lead researcher Ville Leinonen of the University of Kuopio in Finland called the results "very promising," according to a published report. The study appeared in the American Medical Association's journal Archives of Neurology.

The scan could allow doctors to learn whether a patient's brain has "plaques," which accompany the disease. Currently, physicians typically cannot be certain whether the unwanted knots of tissue are present until after an autopsy is performed.

The small study included 10 patients, six deemed to have Alzheimer's, who underwent brain biopsy procedures and then 90-minute PET scans. With the assistance of chemical markers to help identify brain plaques, the scans correctly determined who had the plaques in nine of 10 instances. Researchers feel that PET scans also could help identify which new Alzheimer's drugs are working well.