UCSF Researcher Shares Promising Initial Results from IDEAS Study

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Earlier this year, at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, Gil Rabinovici from UCSF Memory and Aging Center reported early results from the Imaging Dementia – Evidence for Amyloid Scanning (IDEAS) Study.

The goal of the study is to see if using positron emission tomography (PET) imaging as a diagnostic tool leads to significant changes in disease management. Currently, Medicare does not cover the cost of amyloid PET scans, although the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is paying for the scans as part of the study.

Amyloid PET Example

The researchers predicted that PET scan information would lead to changes in patient management in 30 percent of the cases. In fact, results from almost 4,000 participants showed the scan information changed the patient management plan over 67 percent of the time.

The importance of an accurate diagnosis
An accurate diagnosis of dementia symptoms helps healthcare providers direct therapy choices. It can lead to development of a care plan that improves safety and minimizes the risk of preventable complications.

For example, individuals who were found not to have Alzheimer’s may be advised to stop taking Alzheimer’s medications. In cases where the diagnosis was Alzheimer’s, new medications may be prescribed and earlier counseling about safety and future planning can be provided.

Accurate diagnosis offers people with Alzheimer’s or other cognitive impairments time to participate in making decisions regarding legal, financial and care planning, and to communicate these decisions to others. It opens up opportunities to participate in Alzheimer’s research.

Improved diagnostic accuracy can also reduce barriers to developing and testing Alzheimer’s treatments. If trials targeting amyloid-beta involve significant numbers of individuals without amyloid-beta in their brains, it makes it more difficult to determine whether the drug is effective.

Watch Dr. Rabinovici discuss the study.


The researchers have recently finished enrolling participants in the IDEAS Study. Those in the IDEAS Study and their caregivers are being invited to participate in three add-on studies, two funded by the Alzheimer’s Association and one by the U.S. National Institute on Aging. 

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