MRI brain scans perform better than common clinical tests at predicting which people will go on to develop Alzheimer's disease, according to a study being presented next week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), according to a recent press release.
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, irreversible brain disorder that destroys memory and thinking skills. The disease affects 5.5 million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health.
"Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia in the world and is expected to increase globally, and especially in the U.S., as the population gets older," said the study's lead author Cyrus A. Raji, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of radiology at the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. "As we develop new drug therapies and study them in trials, we need to identify individuals who will benefit from these drugs earlier in the course of the disease."
Common predictive models like standardized questionnaires used to measure cognition and tests for the APOE4 gene, a gene variant associated with a higher risk of Alzheimer's disease, have limitations and--with accuracy rates of about 70-71 percent--fail to identify many people who go on to develop the disease.
MRI exams of the brain using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) are a promising option for analysis of dementia risk. These exams assess the condition of the brain's white matter.
You can read the rest of the story in the full press release.