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Tracking signs of memory loss

9:51am, August 20, 2002

As minor forgetfulness progresses until names and faces blur, a person might be told that he or she probably has Alzheimer's disease–but a definitive diagnosis awaits an autopsy showing the characteristic presence of beta-amyloid plaques clogging the brain. Now, researchers report that brain scans tracking a new compound can highlight these plaques in living people undergoing early stages of disease, when therapies may be most effective at staving off future memory loss.

Researchers have long known that the plaques accumulate in the brain long before symptoms of Alzheimer's appear. So, William Klunk of the University of Pittsburgh and his c

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