Dr. Daniel Skovronsky sat a small round table in his corner office, laptop open, waiting for an email meesage. His right leg jiggled nervously.
A few minutes later, the message arrived - results that showed his tiny start-up company might have overcome one of the biggest obstacles in diagnosing Alzheimer's disease. It had found a dye and a brain scan that, he said, can show the hallmark plaque building up in the brains of people with the disease.
The findings, which will be presented at an international meeting of the Alzheimer's Association in Honolulu on July 11, must still be confirmed and approved by the Food and Drug Administration. But if they hold up, it will mean that for the first time, doctors would have a reliable way to diagnose the presence of Alzheimer's in patients with memory problems.
And researchers would have a way to figure out whether drugs are slowing or halting the disease, a step that "will change everyone's thinking about Alzheimer's in a dramatic way, " said Dr. Michael Weiner of the University of California, San Francisco, who is not part of the company's study and directs a federal project to study ways of diagnosing Alzheimer's.