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2013 Grants - Fodero-Tavoletti
Characterisation of Tau Imaging Ligands for AD and Other Dementias
Michelle Fodero-Tavoletti, Ph.D.
Mental Health Research Institute
2013 New Investigator Research Grant
The protein tau plays several important roles in the brain, including the maintenance of brain cell structure. Yet in people with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, tau becomes abnormally processed in the brain and loses its ability to carry out its helpful functions. Abnormal tau also tends to accumulate into toxic formations, promoting brain cell damage and death. Moreover, different kinds of dementia experience different forms of tau-related damage. In recent years, researchers have been working with improved brain imaging techniques to better understand and identify these differences. Tau imaging could lead to more accurate methods of diagnosing specific types of dementia.
Michelle Fodero-Tavoletti, Ph.D., and colleagues have identified a novel “tracer” that can be used to “highlight” specific kinds of tau accumulation by positron emission tomography (PET) brain scans. For this project, the researchers will use their newly developed PET technique to study tau accumulation in autopsied brain samples from people who had various forms of dementia—including Alzheimer’s disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and Parkinson’s disease. They hope their technique can identify precise differences in how and where tau accumulates among the different diseases. The team will also use their PET technique with mice engineered to express brain changes characteristic of various dementia types. If successful, this imaging procedure may be utilized in future human clinical trials.