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
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
“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
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
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
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