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[Press Release]Researchers Visualize α-Synuclein Pathology in Living Patients with A Neurodegenerative Disorder

Update:2022年8月31日更新
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PRESS RELEASE

 

Researchers Visualize α-Synuclein Pathology in Living Patients with A Neurodegenerative Disorder

 

Researchers successfully visualize α-synuclein pathologies in patients with multiple system atrophy

 

Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the aggregation of α-synuclein in the brain. Now, scientists from Japan, in collaboration with three pharmaceutical companies, have developed a radioligand that facilitates the imaging of α-synuclein aggregates in patients with MSA. Their findings have the potential to completely change the scenario of diagnosing neurodegenerative diseases.

α-synuclein is a neuronal protein involved in functions like vesicle trafficking and neurotransmitter release. It is typically found in abundance in a healthy brain. However, the aggregation of α-synuclein has been closely linked to several neurodegenerative disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, multiple system atrophy (or MSA), and Lewy body dementia.

MSA is a movement disorder that also affects the autonomic nervous system, which controls essential functions such as movement, breathing, and digestion. Thus, the imaging of α-synuclein aggregates in vivo (or directly in a living organism), could be a potential diagnostic confirmation of MSA. However, the road to the live imaging of α-synuclein has been marred with obstacles, including the lack of sensitive imaging agents.

Now, a collaborative effort by researchers from the National Institutes for Quantum Science and Technology, including Dr. Makoto Higuchi and Dr. Kiwamu Matsuoka from the Quantum Life and Medical Science Directorate, Institute for Quantum Medical Science has completely changed the scenario with three pharmaceutical companies—Eisai Co., Ltd., Ono Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited. They have successfully visualized α-synuclein aggregates in the brains of patients. To achieve this feat, the team developed a radioligand, 18F-SPAL-T-06, to be used as a probe for positron emission tomography (PET). “The pre-competitive collaboration between a research institute and three pharmaceutical companies enabled us to develop the radioligand, 18F-SPAL-T-06, for the in vivo imaging of α-synuclein aggregates”, says Dr. Higuchi, crediting teamwork for their success. The team’s findings have been published in the journal Movement Disorders.DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/mds.29186

 

Prior to the clinical assessments, in vitro studies on the binding properties of 18F-SPAL-T-06 had been conducted on the postmortem brain tissue of patients with MSA and healthy individuals, showing promising results. For the first-in-human imaging studies, the researchers enrolled three patients who were clinically diagnosed with MSA and one 72-year-old healthy control (HC). Among the three patients with MSA, two were identified as having MSA with predominant Parkinsonism (MSA-P) and one with MSA with predominant cerebellar ataxia (MSA-C). PET scans with 18F-SPAL-T-06 was performed on all the patients and specific binding was estimated by the radioligand retention in the tissue. “Remarkably, we observed enhanced 18F-SPAL-T-06 retention in the putamen, pons, and cerebellar white matter and peduncles

of the patients with MSA-P and MSA-C, in sharp contrast to minimal radio signals in the corresponding areas in the brain of the HC,” explains Dr. Higuchi.

The researchers also found that 18F-SPAL-T-06 has a high affinity for MSA-type α-synuclein aggregates and that it does not cross-react with other off-target components, indicating its high specificity and consequent potential use as a probe for MSA diagnosis.

With respect to the long-term applications of their work, Dr. Higuchi and Dr. Matsuoka share: “We are encouraged by our findings, and investigations into the visualization of α-synuclein aggregates in other α-synucleinopathies are currently underway”.

Thanks to 18F-SPAL-T-06 and the team’s exemplary efforts, the imaging of α-synuclein aggregates may soon make the diagnosis of MSA in patients a reality!

Title: α-synuclein aggregates as seen on a PET scan in patients with MSA and a healthy control

Title: α-synuclein aggregates as seen on a PET scan in patients with MSA and a healthy control

Caption: White arrows indicate accumulation of 18F-SPAL-T-06, suggesting α-synuclein aggregates in the putamen, yellow arrows in the pons, yellow triangle in the cerebellar white matter, and white triangle in the peduncles. On the other hand, red arrows indicate accumulation of 18F-SPAL-T-06 in the choroid plexus outside the brain tissues, which is considered independent of α-synuclein aggregates.

MSA-P: multiple system atrophy with predominant parkinsonism; MSA-C: multiple system atrophy with predominant cerebellar ataxia.

 

Research Article

High-contrast imaging of α-synuclein pathologies in living patients with multiple system atrophy”

Kiwamu Matsuoka, MD, PhD, Maiko Ono, PhD, Yuhei Takado, MD, PhD, Kosei Hirata, MD, PhD, Hironobu Endo, MD, PhD, Toshiyuki Ohfusa, PhD, Taichi Kojima, MSc,, Takeshi Yamamoto, PhD, Tomohiro Onishi, PhD, Asumi Orihara, MD, Kenji Tagai, MD, PhD, Keisuke Takahata, MD, PhD, Chie Seki, PhD, Hitoshi Shinotoh, MD, PhD, Kazunori Kawamura, PhD, Hiroshi Shimizu, MD, PhD, Hitoshi Shimada, MD, PhD, Akiyoshi Kakita, MD, PhD

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/mds.29186

About National Institutes for Quantum Science and Technology, Japan

The National Institutes for Quantum Science and Technology (QST) was established in April 2016 to promote quantum science and technology in a comprehensive and integrated manner. The new organization was formed from the merger of the National Institute of Radiological Sciences (NIRS) with certain operations that were previously undertaken by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA).

QST’s mission is to raise the level of quantum and radiological sciences and technologies through its commitment to research and development into quantum science and technology, the effect of radiation on humans, radiation emergency medicine, and the medical use of radiation.

To ensure that research and development delivers significant academic, social and economic impacts, and to maximize benefits from global innovation, QST is striving to establish world-leading research and development platforms, explore new fields, and serve as a center for radiation protection and radiation emergency medicine.

Website: https://www.qst.go.jp/site/qst-english/

About Dr. Makoto Higuchi from National Institutes for Quantum Science and Technology, Japan

Dr. Makoto Higuchi is a renowned neuroscientist and heads the Department of Functional Brain Imaging at the National Institutes for Quantum Sciences and Technology, Japan. In 1997, he was awarded a Ph.D. in Medicine from Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, and he completed his postdoctoral training in the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. His primary research interest lies in translational molecular imaging aimed at elucidating the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease. He is credited for the development of agents for imaging pathological tau protein deposits in neurodegenerative diseases.

About Dr. Kiwamu Matsuoka from National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology, Japan

Dr. Kiwamu Matsuoka is a researcher associated with the Department of Functional Brain Imaging, Institute for Quantum Medical Science, Quantum Life and Medical Science Directorate and National Institutes for Quantum Science and Technology. His research interests lie in the fields of psychiatry, radiology, and geriatrics. Dr. Matsuoka has more than 44 publications in reputed journals to his credit. His most recent publication is titled as “Adverse Childhood Experience Is Associated With Disrupted White Matter Integrity in Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Diffusion Tensor Imaging Study', published in FRONTIERS IN PSYCHIATRY.

Funding information

This study was supported by Eisai Co., Ltd., Ono Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited, and JST Grant Number JPMJMS2024

(M.H.), AMED Grant Number JP19dm0207072 (M.H.), 21wm0425015, and 18K07777

(M.H).

Media contact:

Public Relations Section

Department of Management and Planning, QST

Tel: +81-43-206-3026 Email: info@qst.go.jp