Research Projects

Road testing detailed new brain scan techniques in people with memory problems

Awarded to:
Dr Paul Edison

Current award:

Imperial College London

1 September 2014 - 31 August 2017

Full project name:

Evaluation of the tau aggregation detected by novel tau tracer, [18F]T807 PET in mild cognitive impairment subjects: a preliminary collaborative PET study.






This study will make use of innovative brain scanning techniques to examine the relationship between the levels of hallmark Alzheimer’s proteins amyloid and tau, and the activity of the brain’s immune system.

The team will study people with early memory and thinking problems called mild cognitive impairment (MCI), as well as people with Alzheimer’s disease and healthy controls.

By comparing the brain scans of people in these different groups, the researchers hope to discover more about how Alzheimer’s progresses, and develop a timeline of the changes that take place in the brains of people with the disease.

Why is this important?

With formal diagnosis rates for Alzheimer’s low and no treatments available that can slow or stop the disease, there is a real need to better understand the disease and how it affects the brain.

By harnessing that latest brain scan developments and studying people with early memory and thinking problems, the team hopes to find new ways to detect early signs of the disease in those at risk.

The understanding gained from this project has huge potential to influence how we study and understand Alzheimer’s as well as how we design new treatments to help those affected.

What will they do?

Researchers will use PET scans, a kind of brain scan that uses chemicals called ‘tracers’ which carry a radioactive ‘tag’.

These tracers are designed to bind to particular proteins in the brain, so that scientists can track what’s happening inside the brain in real time.

For some time now scientists have been using tracers that bind to the amyloid protein as well as areas of immune system activity (inflammation).

Until now, scientists have been unable to use PET scans to study the second hallmark Alzheimer’s protein, tau.

This has left a gap in our understanding of the role of this protein in the disease that urgently needs filling.

This project aims to test a newly-developed chemical tag for tau, designed for use in PET scans, to progress our knowledge of Alzheimer’s.


Linking researchers with ideal patients

This is a cross-post with the National Institute for Health Research.