Abnormal forms of alpha-synuclein and tau proteins are hallmarks of Parkinson's disease and frontotemporal dementia (FTD), respectively, and believed to be early disease indicators. Developing imaging agents to visualize and quantify these proteins in the brains of living patients would be useful and would allow for early diagnose and more accurate assessments of disease stage and progressions. Such imaging tools could also be used in clinical trials to measure a potential drug's effectiveness.
Highly selective and potent alpha-synuclein and tau imaging agents could be used to assess deposits of these proteins and follow their response to therapeutics.
We will test lead compounds that bind selectively to alpha-synuclein and tau deposits using a variety of in vitro binding assays. We plan to modify and optimize these lead compounds to determine their potential as tracers for positron emission tomography (PET) imaging scans.
Impact on Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson's disease:
PET tracers that image alpha-synuclein and tau deposits in the brains of living people could be used for early diagnosis of Parkinson's and FTD and to track disease progression. Importantly, drugs are in development that target alpha-synuclein and tau deposits, and a non-invasive imaging scan could test whether these drugs are effective.
Next Steps for Development:
The long-term goal of this work is a radiolabeled compound for use in PET imaging studies to non-invasively measure alpha-synuclein and tau deposits in the brains of people with Parkinson's and FTD.