Researchers at Yale University are developing a more accurate type of brain scan designed to detect changes in synapses associated with common brain disorders.

The technique combines a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan with a new type of injectable tracer, which enabled scientists to measure the synaptic density in a living brain. This could help doctors better understand and treat a wide range of neurological conditions from epilepsy to Alzheimer’s disease.

Image: GE Healthcare

Researchers developed a new radioactive tracer that binds with a key protein in the synapses of the brain. The tracer is visible through a traditional PET scan and the research team applied a mathematical formula to the results to determine the synaptic density. This is the latest development in the rapidly evolving field of imaging.

The team says they are already planning to use the same method in similar studies for Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, depression and Parkinson’s disease.


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