Health Risks Of Volcanic Ash Could Be Reduced By Rapid Analysis

A new, rapid and cheap way of estimating the potential risk posed to human health by volcanic ash has been devised by a Durham University expert.

Dr Claire Horwell, of the University’s Institute of Hazard and Risk Research, has developed a sieving technique which analyses the grain size of volcanic ash to determine its possible threat to many thousands of humans affected by the estimated 70 volcanic eruptions which happen worldwide each year.

Her research, funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and published in the Journal of Environmental Monitoring, could help shape emergency response plans following a volcanic eruption and cut the possible risk to human health posed by breathing in fine particles of ash.

Although medical research is on-going, volcanic ash is thought to trigger attacks of acute respiratory diseases, such as asthma and bronchitis, in people who already have the diseases. It also has the potential to cause chronic diseases such as the lung disease silicosis.

Medical studies to assess the risk from the ash following an eruption can take years, but if ash is too large to enter the lung it cannot be a hazard.

In many countries only basic sieves are available for assessing the grain size of volcanic ash, but until now sieving could not determine if particles were fine enough to enter the lung.

To solve this problem Dr Horwell used state-of-the-art laser technology to analyse the grain size of samples from around the world.

She found there was a strong link between the ratios of different-sized particles present. She then used this link to develop a formula so the amount of breathable particles could be estimated by sieving.

This sieving technique could allow emergency response teams to quickly and cheaply measure the potential risk to health without the need for high-tech equipment. Depending on the risk, measures could be put in place to protect people living close-by.

Volcanic ash can be present in the air following an eruption for many months, often being remobilised by wind or human activities such as driving.

A number of volcanic eruptions are reported worldwide each year. Last week a volcano on the Yemeni island of Jabal al-Tair, in the Red Sea, erupted for the first time since the nineteenth century sending ash 1,000ft into the air as well as spewing out lava.

In September an eruption of Ol Doinyo Lengai, in Tanzania, eastern Africa, produced ashfall which lasted about 12 hours in the village of Engare Sero, while the eruption of the Soufriere Hills volcano on the Caribbean island of Montserrat, which began in 1995, continues today.

Dr Horwell, who is also co-ordinator of the International Volcanic Health Hazard Network, said: “We need a rapid way to assess the hazard to human health from volcanic ash.

“This technique means that scientists can sieve the ash then very quickly work out what percentage of the material could enter the lung.

“If only a very small percentage of the ash is capable of entering the lung then it is unlikely to present a health hazard, but if there is a high percentage then you would want to issue dust masks or think about evacuating people from the surrounding area.”

Dr Horwell is also recommending that a network of ash collection sites be set up prior to an eruption so that a rapid assessment of health hazards can be made across a region.

Dr Peter Baxter, at the Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge, said: “Volcanologists have traditionally reported on the coarser grain sizes of volcanic ash for their particular purposes rather than the finer material which is the most important for assessing the hazard to respiratory health of populations affected by ash falls in a volcanic eruption.

“This paper will encourage volcanologists to provide a fuller profile of the grain sizes of erupted ash on a routine basis and, most importantly, to be more able to support multi-disciplinary responses to the human impacts of ash falls in future volcanic eruptions, especially in developing countries.”

Source: Alex Thomas

Durham University

Help Put Lung Health On The Agenda Of Federal Leaders’ Debate

The Lung Association called on Canadians to help get lung health of the agenda at the 2008 English-language Leaders’ Debate, slated for Thursday October 2nd.

Canadians are asked to email TVO’s Steve Paikin – the moderator of the debate – at questionelectiondebate08 and request that he ask the five major political party leaders:

“If elected, will you support funding for Canada’s first national action plan on lung health – the National Lung Health Framework?”

The incidence of lung disease continues to rise in Canada – it is a leading cause of hospitalization and emergency room visits. Moreover, one Canadian dies every 20 minutes from lung disease. The human and economic costs of respiratory illness are unacceptable in an age where modern technology, innovation and best-practices should be guiding how we combat the impacts of lung disease.

Yet up until now, there has never been a coordinated plan to deal with this leading health issue.

The National Lung Health Framework is an ambitious project that aims to improve the respiratory health of all people living in Canada through collaborative and equitable patient care, policy, programming, research and leadership. It is a plan that brings together a range of approaches and strategies as the backbone to its success.

Once the National Lung Health Framework is fully implemented, Canadians will see lower instances of lung disease, reduced wait times, better coordination of resources, as well as improved prevention, screening, detection and management of all forms of respiratory illness.

Established in 1900, The Lung Association is one of Canada’s oldest and most respected health charities, and the leading national organization for science-based information, research, education, support programs and advocacy on lung heath issues.

The Lung Association

Bupa And The UK’s Leading Dementia Charities To Partner For Third Year ‘Running’

Bupa, the leading international healthcare group, has announced that it will continue its successful partnership for a third year with dementia charities, Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer Scotland, for the Bupa Great Run Series in 2011.

Over 10,000 people have run for the two charities in the Bupa Great Runs Series since the beginning of the partnership in 2009, and the charities are on target to raise over ??1 million for the second year in a row. By the end of 2011, the charities hoped to have raised in excess of ??3.5 million.

The partnership is vitally important to Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer Scotland. The money raised so far via the Bupa Great Run Series will help to provide information and support services for people with dementia, and their carers, and fund research to find a cure.

Over 750,000 people in Britain live with dementia and this figure is expected to double over the next thirty years. A third of people who live in Bupa’s 305 care homes around the UK require specialist dementia care.

Dr Graham Stokes, director of dementia care at Bupa Care Services said: “We’re very pleased to be supporting Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer Scotland for a third year. As the UK’s leading provider of dementia care, we’re committed to helping people with the disease to live well. We understand how important it is to work with Alzheimer’s Society to support people with dementia today and find a cure for tomorrow. Signing up to support the Alzheimer’s charities in a Bupa Great Run means you can get fit, help reduce your risk of dementia and raise money for a very worthwhile cause.”

Jo Swinhoe, director of fundraising and marketing at Alzheimer’s Society said: “We are incredibly proud of everyone who has taken up the challenge of a Bupa Great Run to raise funds for us and extremely grateful for their efforts. We rely on voluntary income to support people with dementia and their carers and undertake our vital research, so we are thrilled to have this opportunity for a third year and are committed to raising even more in 2011.”

Henry Simmons, chief executive at Alzheimer Scotland said: “We believe that no-one should have to go through dementia on their own and we are extremely pleased to be working with the Bupa Great Run Series again in 2011. The money raised in the past two years through this amazing fundraising partnership has made a big difference to people with dementia and their families across Scotland, so this third year of opportunity is greatly welcomed by everyone in our organisation.”

Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer Scotland are calling for runners to support them in one of the 2011 Bupa Great Runs across the country. For further details visit alzheimers/greatrun or telephone 0870 417 0192. Runners in Scotland can visit alzscot or telephone 0845 260 0789.

Bupa has sponsored the Great Run Series for 18 years, and last year helped raise over ??28 million for charity in total.

Alzheimer’s Society

Diseases To Watch For In 2009 Include Hantavirus

The Iowa Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) urges Iowans to take steps to stay healthy in 2009. Influenza season is entering its most active months; in addition, recent cases of norovirus, shigellosis and hantavirus offer opportunities to remind Iowans that good hygiene and disease prevention are the best ways to avoid illness.

The best prevention against influenza is receiving a yearly flu shot. The flu is a respiratory illness caused by viruses. It spreads easily from person to person and can cause mild to severe illness. The flu comes on suddenly and symptoms may include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, and body aches. Illness typically lasts two to seven days. Influenza is preventable:

– If you or your school-aged children haven’t gotten the flu shot yet, do it now. The influenza vaccine is available for children as young as 6 months old. The flu vaccine is the best defense against getting influenza.

– Wash your hands frequently. If you cannot wash your hands, you may use alcohol-based hand sanitizer as long as hands are not visibly soiled.

– Stay home from work or school when you are ill with the flu, and encourage others to do the same.

– Stay away from people you know are ill. Maintain at least a three-foot distance from someone coughing and sneezing.

Hantavirus is a respiratory disease caused by a virus carried by rodents, such as mice. People become infected after breathing in airborne particles of urine, droppings or saliva from infected rodents. There have been seven cases of hantavirus in Iowa. Most cases in the U.S. have been associated with rodent-infested homes, cabins or other buildings. To protect yourself against hantavirus, it’s important to follow these rodent removal and clean-up guidelines:

– Use bleach solution or household disinfectant to wet down dead rodents, rodent nests, or rodent urine and feces. This will decrease the chance of virus particles going into the air, where they can be breathed in.

– Wear rubber gloves when removing dead rodents, rodent nests, or rodent urine and feces.

– Wash your hands with soap and water after cleanup.

– Open doors and windows for good ventilation while cleaning.

For information on hantavirus,
click here.

Norovirus causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cramps. Outbreaks have been associated with food and water, but most norovirus infections are spread from person to person, especially among family members. Shigellosis results in severe diarrhea which can be bloody and fever. Shigella is easily spread from person to person. To prevent both norovirus and shigella:

– Anyone who is ill with diarrhea, vomiting or fever should stay home and not work with food, the elderly, in health care or child care.

– Good hand washing must be done every time people use the toilet, change a diaper, or before they eat or prepare any food.

– Infants and children must also have their hands washed after diapers have been changed or after using the toilet, and before eating.

— More information on norovirus.
– Information of shigella.

Iowa Department of Public Health

Enbrel Therapy Allowed Significantly More Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients To Achieve Clinical Remission

New results from TEMPO (Trial of Etanercept and Methotrexate with Radiographic Patient Outcomes) demonstrated that EnbrelĀ® (etanercept) therapy allowed significantly more rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients to achieve clinical remission at two years compared to patients treated with methotrexate alone. Building on the one-year TEMPO results, this two-year data further supports the continued efficacy of ENBREL therapy over time. Results were presented today during the EULAR (European League Against Rheumatism) Annual European Congress of Rheumatology in Berlin, Germany.

“The two-year data from the ongoing TEMPO trial show very good results for the combination of etanercept and methotrexate. We are particularly impressed by the high frequency of remission in patients who have had both a long previous history of RA and high disease activity at the start of the trial,” said Lars Klareskog, M.D., Ph.D., principal investigator of the study from the rheumatology unit at the Karolinska Institute/Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden.

More than 40 percent of the 231 patients receiving combination therapy of ENBREL and methotrexate achieved clinical remission as assessed by the Disease Activity Score (DAS). Also, a significantly higher percentage of the 223 patients receiving ENBREL alone (23.3 percent) achieved clinical remission, compared with the 228 patients receiving methotrexate alone (15.8 percent). Clinical remission is defined as having a DAS of

Comprehensive Guidelines For Diagnosis And Treatment Of Stable COPD Issued By ACP

The American College of Physicians (ACP) has released a new clinical practice guideline on diagnosing and treating stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a slowly progressive lung disease involving the airways and lung tissue, resulting in a gradual loss of lung function, typically as a result of smoking.

COPD affects more than 5 percent of the adult population in the United States and is the fourth leading cause of death and twelfth leading cause of illness. The symptoms of COPD range from chronic cough and wheezing to more severe symptoms such as shortness of breath and significant activity limitation.

The term COPD includes both emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Physicians often use the broader term COPD, since affected patients frequently have components of both processes.

The guideline offers six recommendations, including:

* In patients with respiratory symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, spirometry (a simple test in which a person blows into a machine that measures the amount of gas breathed into it over a period of time) should be performed to diagnose airflow obstruction. Spirometry should not be used to screen for airflow obstruction in asymptomatic individuals.

* Treatment of stable COPD should be reserved for patients who have respiratory symptoms and forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) less than 60 percent predicted, as documented by spirometry.

* For symptomatic patients with COPD and FEV1 less than 60 percent predicted, clinicians should prescribe long-acting inhaled ??-agonists, long-acting inhaled anticholinergics, or inhaled corticosteroids.

* Clinicians should prescribe oxygen therapy in patients with COPD and insufficient levels of oxygen in the circulating blood while resting.

“The evidence does not support using spirometry as a diagnostic strategy for individuals not reporting respiratory symptoms,” said Steven Weinberger, MD, FACP, Senior Vice President, Medical Education and Publishing at ACP, and an author of the guideline. “However, adding spirometry to clinical examinations for individuals with respiratory symptoms, especially shortness of breath, has demonstrated benefits.”

The guideline, published in the Nov. 6, 2007, issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, is based on a systematic evidence review of published studies by Timothy J. Wilt, MD, MPH, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality-sponsored Minnesota Evidence-based Practice Center evidence report.

“It is important that all individuals with COPD stop smoking to prevent progression of the disease,” Dr. Weinberger said. “Of course, even smokers without COPD should stop smoking to decrease the risk of both COPD and lung cancer. It’s never too late to stop.”

The target audience for the guideline is all physicians and the target patient population is all adults with COPD.

The following will be published in the in the Nov. 6, 2007, edition of Annals of Internal Medicine and will be available to the public at annals/:

* Diagnosis and Management of Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: A Clinical Practice Guideline from the American College of Physicians

* Management of Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: A Systematic Review for a Clinical Practice Guideline

Annals of Internal Medicine (annals/) is one of the most widely cited peer-reviewed medical journals in the world. The journal has been published for 80 years and accepts only seven percent of the original research studies submitted for publication. Annals of Internal Medicine is published by the American College of Physicians (acponline/), the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States.

ACP members include 124,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internists specialize in the prevention, detection, and treatment of illness in adults.

Source: Steve Majewski

American College of Physicians

Public Invited To Attend Autism Research Town Hall Meeting – May 3, Sacramento, California

Parents and caregivers of children, teens and adults with autism spectrum disorders are among those invited to participate in a daylong town hall meeting on May 3, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at UC Davis Cancer Center, 4501 “X” St., Sacramento, to discuss priorities for current and future autism research.

The town hall meeting is sponsored by the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, the federal advisory committee that coordinates autism spectrum disorders activities nationwide as mandated by the Combating Autism Act of 2006.

“What we are looking for is input from parents into what should be the priorities for research into treatments for autism. While there are many different treatments that are being tried, the solid data in well-controlled clinical trials are not always there to support those therapies,” said Cindy Lawler, a representative of the IACC.

The meeting is the first of its kind conducted by the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, and follows a Request for Information for public input issued in December 2007 as the committee began to develop a strategic plan for ASD research. The committee is composed of several different Department of Health and Human Services agencies including the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Department of Education.

Lawler, who works in the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health, said the first of its kind meeting is being held in Sacramento because UC Davis “is a hotbed of environmental health sciences research” with a “critical mass of researchers” exploring autism therapies.

“At UC Davis we have a very strong commitment to research into autism’s causes and treatments,” said Isaac Pessah, professor, Department of Molecular Biosciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and director of the UC Davis Children’s Center for Environmental Health and Disease Prevention. “This town hall is essential in engaging public input into the IACC strategic plan and it gives stakeholders and caregivers a chance to guide the NIH toward identifying critical areas where funding is needed for autism research.”

The town hall meeting will be divided into two parts. The morning session will explore interventions for young children. The afternoon session will examine interventions for adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders. The public will be invited to comment after each panel discussion.

The morning’s panelists will include Sally Rogers, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and a UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute researcher whose work focuses on effective intensive intervention for toddlers with autism; and internationally known fragile X researcher Randi Hagerman, medical director at the M.I.N.D. Institute and professor, endowed chair in fragile X research, at the UC Davis School of Medicine.

Each panel will include one public IACC representative. Lyn Redwood will sit on the morning panel. She is the co-founder of the Coalition for Safe Minds, a private nonprofit organization founded to investigate and raise awareness of the risks to infants and children of exposure to mercury from medical products, including thimerosal in vaccines. Neurologist Michael Chez, who specializes in childhood autism and is an expert in the medical management of children with autism spectrum disorders, will moderate the morning panel.

Lawler said that, to date, autism treatment research has been focused primarily on young children, with little attention directed at treatment and interventions for older children, adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders. The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee is seeking community input on research priorities and strategies to develop a stronger evidence base for interventions that are appropriate across the lifespan of individuals with autism.

The IACC representative on the afternoon panel will be Lee Grossman, president and chief executive officer of the Autism Society of America. Other panelists will include Pilar Bernal, founder and director of the Autism Spectrum Disorders Center of Kaiser Permanente of Northern California, and Dena Gassner, an autism “self advocate” who describes herself as a second generation member of three generations of people with autism.

Lawler said the research priorities identified in these areas will help to answer many key questions that confront families affected by autism, such as: When should I be concerned about my child’s development? How can I understand what is happening to my child? What caused this to happen and how can we prevent it? Where can I turn for services? What does the future hold?

“Families are affected by autism every day,” Lawler said. “They need ways to help their family members sooner rather than later.”

The meeting will be free and open to the public. Advance registration is not required. The auditorium will seat up to 250 people. Event parking will be available in Visitor Lot 4 adjacent to the Cancer Center.

The UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute, in Sacramento, Calif., was founded in 1998 as a unique interdisciplinary research center where parents, community leaders, researchers, clinicians and volunteers collaborate to study and treat autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. More information about the institute is available on the Web.

Public Affairs
UC Davis Health System
4900 Broadway, Suite 1200
Sacramento, CA 95820
Web address

Source: Phyllis Brown

University of California – Davis – Health System

Landmark Report Reveals Massive Global Cost Of Alzheimer’s: 1% Of Global GDP And Growing

A landmark report on the Global Economic Impact of Dementia finds that Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are exacting a massive toll on the global economy, with the problem set to accelerate in coming years. The World Alzheimer Report 2010 issued on World Alzheimer’s Day by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) provides the most current and comprehensive global picture of the economic and social costs of the illness. The Report was jointly authored by Prof Anders Wimo of the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden; and Prof Martin Prince, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, UK.

“This is a wake-up call that Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are the single most significant health and social crisis of the 21st century,” said Dr Daisy Acosta, Chairman of ADI. “World governments are woefully unprepared for the social and economic disruptions this disease will cause.”
The Report reveals:

– If dementia care were a country, it would be the world’s 18th largest economy. If it were a company, it would be the world’s largest by annual revenue exceeding Wal-Mart (US$414 billion) and Exxon Mobil (US$311 billion).

– The number of people with dementia will double by 2030, and more than triple by 2050.

– The costs of caring for people with dementia are likely to rise even faster than the prevalence especially in the developing world, as more formal social care systems emerge, and rising incomes lead to higher opportunity costs.

– Reports from individual countries such as the UK suggest that dementia is one of the costliest illnesses and yet research and investment is at a far lower level than for other major illnesses.

“The scale of this crisis cries out for global action,” said Marc Wortmann, Executive director of ADI. “History shows that major diseases can be made manageable and even preventable with sufficient global awareness and the political will to make substantial investments in research and care options.”

“This new Report gives us the clearest, most comprehensive picture yet of the global economic and social costs of dementia,” said Prof Anders Wimo. “In this World Alzheimer Report 2010, we merged the best available data and the most recent insights regarding the worldwide economic cost of dementia. This enabled us to provide more detailed estimates than before, by making use of recently available data that considerably strengthens the evidence base.”

The Report combines the most current prevalence data from the World Alzheimer Report 2009 with improved data on low and middle-income countries from the 10/66 Dementia Research Group studies in Latin America, India and China. The Report uses representative population-based samples from developing countries to better quantify the cost of informal care systems that have previously been excluded from impact estimates.

Co-author Prof Martin Prince urged nations to develop better plans for caring for the millions who have the disease. “The care of people with dementia is not just a health issue it is a massive social issue,” said Prof Prince. “This is particularly true in low and middle income countries which lack adequate systems of formal care. Governments must show greater leadership, working with all stakeholders, to drive solutions to the long term care issue.”

Recommended Actions

The Report urges the global community to take the following immediate actions:

– Governments worldwide should act urgently to make Alzheimer’s disease a top priority and develop national plans to deal with the social and health consequences of dementia. Several countries have moved forward to develop national plans, including France, Australia and England. It is critical for other governments to follow suit.

– Governments and other major research funders must increase research funding to a level more proportionate to the economic burden of the condition. Recently published data from the UK suggests that a 15-fold increase is required to reach parity with research into heart disease, and a 30-fold increase to achieve parity with cancer research.

– Governments worldwide must develop policies and plans for long-term care that anticipate and address social and demographic trends and have an explicit focus on supporting family caregivers and ensuring social protection of vulnerable people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

– The scale of what is facing us elevates this to a global challenge, which must be addressed as a top WHO priority and on the G-20/G-8 agenda.

Dementia is a syndrome that can be caused by a number of progressive disorders that affect memory, thinking, behavior and the ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Approximately 0.5% of the world’s total population live with dementia and this will grow exponentially.

After age 65, the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s roughly doubles every five years. At the age of 85, the odds of a person developing it are close to 50 percent. In the World Alzheimer Report 2009, ADI estimated that there are 35.6 million people living with dementia worldwide, increasing to 65.7 million by 2030 and 115.4 million by 2050.


1. The Report may be found at alz/worldreport.

2. World Alzheimer’s Day is observed on 21 September every year as an opportunity to raise awareness about the devastating impact of Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

3. Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) is the international federation of 73 Alzheimer associations around the world. Each member is the Alzheimer association in their country who support people with dementia and their families. It was founded in 1984 as a network for Alzheimer associations around the world to share and exchange information, resources and skills. ADI is based in London and is registered as a non-profit organization in Illinois, USA. ADI has been in official relations with the World Health Organization since 1996. ADI’s vision is an improved quality of life for people with dementia and their families throughout the world

4. The Institute of Psychiatry is a school of King’s College London and one of the world’s largest post-graduate centres for research and teaching in psychiatry, psychology, and allied disciplines, including basic and clinical neurosciences. King’s College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (Times Higher Education 2009) and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King’s has more than 22,000 students from nearly 140 countries, and more than 5,700 employees. King’s is in the second phase of a ??1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate.

5. King’s College London and Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts are part of King’s Health Partners. King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) is a pioneering global collaboration between one of the world’s leading research-led universities and three of London’s most successful NHS Foundation Trusts, including leading teaching hospitals and comprehensive mental health services.

6. Karolinska Institutet is one of the world’s leading medical universities. Its mission is to contribute to the improvement of human health through research and education. Karolinska Institutet accounts for over 40 per cent of the medical academic research conducted in Sweden and offers the country??s broadest range of education in medicine and health sciences. Since 1901 the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet selects the Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine.

Source: Alzheimer??s Disease International

Debating The Success Of Alzheimer’s Research

An editorial in the journal Lancet debates the problems of drug development for Alzheimer’s disease.

The feature questions why so many trials are failing at the phase 3 clinical trial stage and asks whether the animal models used prior to this are the most effective way to test the drugs. It also suggests treatments should perhaps start to focus more on the changes in the brain that happen before symptoms like memory loss start to appear. However, it notes that these are difficult to replicate in animal models.

Alzheimer’s Society comment:

‘Scientific research is essential in the search for a cure and treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and we must not be too disheartened that many drug trials fall at the final hurdle. The fact only one in five clinical trials across all diseases will be successful highlights the need for more investment so we can defeat dementia.’

‘Every day scientists are learning more about the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and this is an important area for further study and development. ‘

Dr Susanne Sorensen

Head of Research


Alzheimer’s Society

Cutting-Edge Symposium Shed Light On The Many Possibilities Of Molecular Neuroimaging

SNM’s Molecular Imaging Center of Excellence wrapped up its Molecular Neuroimaging Symposium in Bethesda, Md., at the Natcher Auditorium of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Dima Hammoud, M.D., of the Clinical Center/NIH, and co-chair of the symposium’s program committee, said, “We hope that by bringing together researchers and clinicians working in the field of molecular neuroimaging, we will stimulate interaction among speakers and attendees, foster collaboration and promote the rapid advancement of this emerging field.”

Because of the multidisciplinary background of the audience and faculty – which included experts in chemistry, engineering, physics, molecular biology, neurosciences and imaging sciences – the first day of the symposium served as an introduction and general overview of current and new techniques used to study the brain. The symposium’s focus shifted to translational research.

“Our aim for this meeting is to bring the clinical and research communities together,” said MICoE President Henry F. VanBrocklin, Ph.D., professor of radiology and director of radiopharmaceutical research in the Center for Functional and Molecular Imaging at the University of California, San Francisco, and a member of the symposium’s program committee.

“Translating basic research into clinical techniques is a long and arduous task that requires input from both sides and constant communication between the people designing the scanners and probes and those who will eventually use them to improve the clinical care of patients.”

Three topics were at the forefront of discussion: brain tumor imaging, neurodegenerative diseases and neuropsychiatric disorders.

The day’s activities started in the morning with a keynote presentation from Edward Neuwelt, M.D., Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, that identified strategies to overcome the blood-brain barrier for the treatment of brain tumors. The session that followed covered molecular imaging advances in the evaluation of primary brain tumors, including imaging hypoxia and cell proliferation, metabolic brain tumor imaging using high-field MRI and decoding gene expression in brain tumors using non-invasive imaging techniques.

The next session was devoted to molecular imaging biomarkers for detecting and monitoring the progression of neurodegenerative disorders and dementia. Chet Mathis, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, Pa., gave a lecture about future tracer development for human amyloid imaging in Alzheimer’s disease. Another lecture discussed imaging and genetic biomarkers for assessing risk, onset and progression of Parkinson’s disease.

The last session tackled illnesses that are commonly seen in psychiatric/neurobehavioral medicine. Lectures on early-onset mood disorders, the depression-dementia continuum and schizophrenia discussed the utility of molecular imaging in early diagnosis as well as in discovering the underlying causes of these afflictions. The day’s events concluded with a final keynote speech, “From Molecules to Networks to Behavior,” given by Jeff Petrella, M.D., Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.

This meeting was organized by SNM’s Molecular Imaging Center of Excellence as a follow-up to a similar conference held at NIH in 2009 that focused on cardiovascular molecular imaging. The brain symposium was designed to continue this momentum and stimulate further growth in the field of molecular imaging.

The Radiological Society of North America, the Society of Radiopharmaceutical Science and the Society for Molecular Imaging also sponsored the event.

The project described was supported by Award Number R13EB011853 from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIBIB, the NINDS or the National Institutes of Health.

Amy Shaw
Society of Nuclear Medicine