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Researcher Presents First Non-Invasive Images of Alpha-Synuclein in the Brain


Emerging research suggests that an experimental alpha-synuclein (a-syn) positron emission tomography (PET) tracer may help diagnose multiple system atrophy (MSA) and potentially other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia.

In what may be a groundbreaking development for the diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases, the first non-invasive images of pathological alpha-synuclein (a-syn) in the human brain were presented by a leading neurological researcher on March 16 at the AD/PD 2022 (International Conference on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases and Related Neurological Disorders) meeting in Barcelona, Spain.

In the same presentation, Oskar Hansson, MD, PhD, discussed clinical proof-of-concept data for the use of an a-syn positron emission tomography (PET) tracer (ACI-12589) to help diagnose patients with multiple system atrophy (MSA). The modality may be a significant advance for not only diagnosing MSA but potentially other alpha-synucleinopathies such as Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s disease as well, according to Dr. Hansson, a professor of neurology at Lund University and a consultant neurologist at Skane University Hospital in Sweden.

“This is the first time that a PET tracer has reliably detected a-syn aggregates in patients’ brains. The ACI-12589 patient brain scans indicate the signal specificity for a-syn in MSA patients versus healthy volunteers and patients with other a-synucleinopathies,” emphasized Dr. Hansson. “The results represent great clinical progress in the quest to provide a diagnostic tool for patients suffering from MSA and potentially other a-synucleinopathies. This could ultimately enable earlier and more reliable differentiation for this difficult-to-diagnose neurodegenerative disease.”

AC Immune, the developer of the experimental ACI-12589 PET tracer, noted that initial data revealed the highest tracer retention in areas (particularly cerebellar white matter) affected by MSA disease processes. The company added that the PET tracer has a safety and pharmacokinetic profile conducive for further development as an imaging agent for the human brain.

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