Study Launches into Value of Brain PET Scans for Alzheimer’s Diagnosis in Diverse Groups

December 11, 2020
Whitney J. Palmer

American College of Radiology/Alzheimer’s Association study is now recruiting African American and Latino patients to determine whether amyloid PET scans can help with more accurate diagnosis and treatment decisions.

The American College of Radiology (ACR) and Alzheimer’s Association are teaming up to launch the next research step that could help clinicians make more accurate diagnoses of the disease, potentially improving treatments.

On Dec. 10, the national organizations announced the “New IDEAS: Imaging Dementia – Evidence for Amyloid Scanning” study. This initiative is focused on determining whether using brain amyloid PET scans can help providers better detect amyloid accumulation in the brain, a hallmark of the brain changes related to Alzheimer’s, and use that information to implement better therapies to improve quality of life.

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While the original IDEAS study revealed these PET scans can change treatment in more than 60 percent of patients, the New IDEAS study, which is actively recruiting, is intended to go further. With this effort, researchers will concentrate on more diverse populations.

“The New IDEAs study aims to be among the most racially and ethnically diverse Alzheimer’s disease studies ever launched,” said Gil Rabinovici, M.D., Edward Fein and Pearl Landrith Distinguished Professor in Memory & Aging at the University of California at San Francisco, and study principal investigator. “New IDEAS study champions will actively conduct outreach and build relationships in Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino communities across the country.”

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In fact, the study population will include more than 2,000 Hispanics/Latino patients and 2,000 Black/African American Medicare beneficiaries who meet the clinical criteria for mild cognitive impairment or dementia. The study group will also include patients both typical and atypical presentations of mild cognitive impairment and dementia, as well as those who have early-onset before age 65.

Including more individuals from racial and ethnic minority groups will fill a knowledge gap, said Maria C. Carrillo, Ph.D., Alzheimer’s Association chief science officer. The goal, she said, is to better inform providers about how these PET scans can affect medical management and outcomes as treatment options in the pipeline continue to advance and the number of individuals developing mild cognitive dementia and Alzheimer’s continues to grow.

“The New IDEAS study can help improve health equity by making Alzheimer’s research results more relevant across diverse populations,” said Etta Pisano, M.D., FACR, ACR chief science officer. “We strongly urge dementia specialists and PET imaging providers serving large, multicultural populations to actively take part in this important trial.”

Physicians who are trained and board-certified in neurology, psychiatry, and geriatric medicine who also collaborate with imaging facilities that offer amyloid PET imaging can enroll patients in the study. Other doctors can refer their patients to a physician participating in the study.

During the study, enrolled patients may undergo a brain amyloid PET scan, which will be covered by Medicare except for any co-pays or deductibles. Investigators will also collect blood and saliva samples to test and validate emerging genetic and plasma biomarkers for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Information about becoming a participating site can be found here.

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