Researchers from the University Hospital Zurich and the University of Zurich are studying Alzheimer's disease from different perspectives.
Since 2010, the Department of Nuclear Medicine has been active at the Schlieren location, using the latest imaging technologies for clinical and research purposes. Together with the Institute for Regenerative Medicine, we are conducting studies on prevention and dementia therapy.
Among other tools, a PET/MR scanner is used for these studies. This is a combination device for molecular imaging that combines positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MR). This combination makes it possible to record brain functions, possible pathologies and the anatomy of the brain within one examination and in parallel. For example, Alzheimer’s dementia can be detected at an early stage with the aim of preventing the onset of the disease.
In addition to the PET/MR scanner, there is also a new digital 6-ring PET/CT device and a latest generation MR device on site. For the PET examination, various PET tracers are available, which can be used to visualize for instance sugar metabolism, cerebral blood flow and also protein deposits that are associated with dementia. In cooperation with the physicians of the clinical center, the nuclear medicine staff helps to select the best diagnostic procedure and research protocol for the particular problem.
The aim of the investigations with the PET/MR scanner is to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease before the onset of dementia. The combination of PET imaging and MR makes it possible to detect the most important risk factor of Alzheimer’s dementia, beta-amyloid plaques in the brain, as well as to study the effect of this risk factor on the structure and function of the brain years before the onset of clinical symptoms. This research approach goes hand in hand with the development of other preventive therapeutic approaches, in particular immunotherapy.