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Funded Studies

Discovery of Selective PET Imaging Agents for Tauopathies and Alpha-Synuclein

This grant builds upon the research from a prior grant: Alpha-synuclein/Tau Imaging Consortium

Study Rationale:    
The development of alpha-synuclein and tau imaging agents will be valuable for people with Parkinson’s disease and Frontal Temporal Dementia (FTD), as deposits of these proteins are distinctive features of Parkinson’s and FTD and are believed to be early disease markers. The ability to visualize and quantify deposits of alpha-synuclein and tau in the brain will be useful as biomarkers of the presence of disease, to more accurately assess disease stage and progression, and as a tool for drug development to treat Parkinson’s and FTD.
Highly selective and potent alpha-synuclein and tau imaging agents for Parkinson’s and Frontal Temporal Dementia can be used to non-invasively assess regional deposits of these proteins and to follow their removal with therapy.

Study Design:
Lead compounds that bind selectively to alpha-synuclein and tau deposits will be assessed using a variety of methods. These lead compounds will be chemically modified and optimized to assess their properties as potential positron emission tomography (PET) tracers for imaging alpha-synuclein and tau deposits in the brains of Parkinson’s and Frontal Temporal Dementia participants. The long-term goal of this work is a radiolabeled compound for use in PET imaging studies to non-invasively assess alpha-synuclein and tau deposits in the brains of living Parkinson’s and FTD participants. 

Impact on Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease:
Early detection of alpha-synuclein and tau deposits in the brain of Parkinson’s and FTD participants would be useful as a diagnostic tool and to follow disease progression.  Drugs that target alpha-synuclein and tau build up in the brain are under development. A non-invasive method to assess whether these anti-alpha-synuclein and anti-tau drugs are effective in removing excess alpha-synuclein and tau from the brain is essential to assist effective drug development efforts.  

Next Steps for Development:
Once identified and validated, these compounds will be made available to the Parkinson’s and FTD research and therapy communities for a variety of imaging applications.


  • Chester A. Mathis, PhD

    Pittsburgh, PA United States

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