At St. Olav’s hospital, they are now producing a radioactive drug that can detect the disease earlier than before.
The drug that can detect early stages of Alzheimer’s has taken several years to research, but now it is finally ready for production and use at St. Olav’s hospital in Trondheim.
– Before, we saw the anatomy, but we didn’t actually see what was going on in the brain.
This is according to Ingvild Saltvedt, senior physician in geriatrics at St. Olav’s hospital and professor at NTNU.
But on 28 March this changed. Then the hospital in Trondheim started with a new treatment that can detect incipient Alzheimer’s disease and actually see what is going on in the brain.
The first patients were scanned with PET-MR and the new tracer on Tuesday 28 March at St. Olav’s hospital.
As the first in the Nordics, they produce and use radioactive medicine to show early stages of the disease.
– It’s always nice to be able to offer a better healthcare service to all the patients in Helse Midt Noreg, says Thomas Keil, chief medical officer at the department of nuclear medicine at St. Olavs.
Understand better what is wrong with the patient
The new drug, MK6240, is a tracer that patients ingest before a examination. This means that the picture shows different types of illness and age changes. And this can reveal Alzheimer’s.
– They get to know even more about what is wrong with them. And I feel that many of these patients are interested in knowing, says Saltvedt.
– It is a completely new tracer that I will use in patients with mild cognitive impairment. The tracer can help doctors diagnose this disease more correctly and even earlier than we have been able to do before, adds Live Eikenes, professor of diagnostic imaging.
And being able to detect Alzheimer’s early is important to be able to help and treat the patient better than before.
– Until then, I can give treatment that delays the development of the disease. It can also give patients an opportunity to find out their prognosis and it will be able to identify future care needs, explains Keil.
Depending on local production
The medicine, which is made in collaboration between St. Olav and NTNU, is made at the hospital in Trondheim.
– If we hadn’t been able to prepare the medicine ourselves, we wouldn’t have had access to them at all, explains pharmacist at St. Olav, Lisbeth Sørum.
Radioactive medicine is prepared at St. Olav’s hospital
She works with testing and quality control of the medicine, and assures patients that there is little risk in doing such an examination a couple of times in their life. But since it is radioactive, it must be used the same day it is produced.
Radioactive medicine, St. Olav’s hospital
– It is a radioactive medicine that has a short half-life and in this case it is about 2 hours. So, when 2 hours have passed, half of the tracer is left. So it is very, very important to have local production, adds Stokkan.
The new drug will also be important when new forms of treatment for Alzheimer’s come on the scene.
– A lot is happening on the treatment side of Alzheimer’s from now on. and then it is also just as important to have diagnostics to diagnose patients as early as possible and to be able to follow up on new treatments that are coming, says Stokkan.