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6

M E D I C U S

J U N E 2 0 1 7

New Alzheimer’s test a WA first

WITH DEMENTIA RATES

rising, there is increasing demand for

new tests and drugs that can diagnose preclinical Alzheimer’s

disease and halt, or at least decelerate, its onslaught.

Now for the first time in Western Australia, patients can access

a powerful new diagnostic test thanks to Perth Radiological

Clinic’s launch of a dedicated Alzheimer’s disease clinical PET/

CT scan. The first two patients were scanned earlier this month

at PRC’s Oceanic Molecular Centre at Hollywood Hospital.

According to Clinical A/Professor Nat Lenzo, a Nuclear

Physician at PRC, 10 years of intensive research has shown that

amyloid PET/CT imaging is the most sensitive and specific

non-invasive test currently available for Alzheimer’s disease.

“We have shown that amyloid PET imaging can pick up

pre-clinical Alzheimer’s disease up to 10-15 years before

symptoms develop,” Dr Lenzo said.

“Early diagnosis is becoming more and more important for

a range of reasons,” he added. “Dementia rates are rising,

patients are keen to know if some of their symptoms are truly

related to underlying pathology, they want to make more

informed decisions if diagnosed with preclinical Alzheimer’s,

and are keen to be recruited into clinical trials if the scan

returns positive.”

While a positive amyloid PET scan in itself is not definitive for

Alzheimer’s disease, the test can determine the presence of

beta amyloid, which is felt to be the culprit abnormal protein

in the brain that causes Alzheimer’s disease to slowly develop.

This helps increase the clinical certainty of a diagnosis.

Dr Lenzo explains the benefit to clinicians – and patients – is

enormous with the ability to make more accurate and earlier

diagnoses.

“It is also very reassuring for patients if the scan is negative.

Current imaging and clinical assessments are insensitive and

inaccurate unless Alzhemier’s disease is in its later stages. At

that time, intervention has limited success,” Dr Lenzo said.

The scan costs $2,200 but it is hoped that as the amyloid PET/

CT scans become more utilised, the price will fall.

N E W S

IN BRIEF

NEW ACTING DEAN AT UND

Following Professor Shirley Bowen’s

departure from Notre Dame’s School of

Medicine, Professor Jane Courtney will be

Acting Dean until a permanent appointment

is made. Prof Courtney is a Consultant

Physician based at Hollywood Hospital

where she has worked since 1993 as both

a General Physician and a Geriatrician.

Her particular area of expertise is in

Orthogeriatric care and she was instrumental in establishing a new

model of care between the orthopaedic surgeons and the geriatricians

to improve outcomes in elderly patients.

NEW TRIAL FOR HYPERTENSION

Curtin University has launched a clinical trial to investigate a new

strategy for treating hypertension. As part of the nation-wide

study involving 650 adults in collaboration with Professor Clara

Chow from The George Institute, Curtin University researchers are

seeking to recruit more than 100 Western Australian adults

(18 years+) to volunteer to take part through The Healthy Living

Clinic at Curtin University.

The QUARTET clinical trial, which is funded by a NHMRC grant, will

assess whether a new treatment – ultra-low-dose quadruple therapy

(LDQT) – will lower blood pressure more effectively than standard dose

monotherapy, which is currently offered to patients with hypertension.

Anyone interested in taking part in the trial should call either Sue

Critchley or Jacquita Affandi on (08) 9266 5860.

RCPA SUPPORTS TGA’S REVIEW OF HOME

PREGNANCY TESTS

The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA) has

strongly supported the review of all home pregnancy tests by the

Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The review revealed

that many of the home pregnancy tests available in Australia gave

significant numbers of false negative results, which has led to 14

brands being withdrawn from the market and the recall of three

additional kits.

RCPA President Dr Michael Harrison said the College strongly

encouraged the use of Quality Assurance programs for all

diagnostic tests, including those which are sold directly to patients.

“The recent review by the TGA has identified that a significant

number of home pregnancy tests were not sensitive enough to

detect early pregnancy, resulting in 40 per cent of home pregnancy

tests being withdrawn from the Australian market,” Dr Harrison said.

“It’s also worth noting that a number of the kits that were withdrawn

from the market, were sold directly to consumers on eBay. The

RCPA strongly encourages patients to visit a General Practitioner

or healthcare professional as the best course of action in order to

accurately detect a pregnancy,” Dr Harrison added.

Prof Jane Courtney