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Center for Cognitive Health

IDEAS Study Results

The Imaging Dementia-Evidence for Amyloid Scanning (IDEAS) Study was a 12 month, observational, open-label, longitudinal study done from February 2016 to December 2017. This study was done to assess the impact of amyloid PET scans on patient outcomes. An amyloid PET scan of the brain can identify underlying Alzheimer’s disease even in people with no cognitive complaints. The study was made up of 18,848 participants who were referred by qualified dementia specialists and met inclusion criteria specific to this study, including mild cognitive impairment or mild dementia.

The study hypothesized that, in diagnostically uncertain cases, knowledge of amyloid status as determined by a positive amyloid PET will lead to significant changes in patient management, and that this will translate into improved long-term outcomes.

What did the study find?

The press release announcing the IDEAS Study publication states that the study revealed that providing clinicians with the results of PET scans that identify amyloid plaques in the brain changed medical management – including the use of medications and counseling – in nearly two-thirds of cases. The study also showed that amyloid PET scans altered the diagnosis of the cause of cognitive impairment in more than one in three study participants.

The Alzheimer’s Association chief science officer and co-author of the study, Dr. Maria C. Carrillo, PhD, stated that these study results, “Present highly credible, large-scale evidence that amyloid PET imaging can be a powerful tool to improve the accuracy of Alzheimer’s diagnosis and lead to better medical management, especially in difficult-to-diagnose cases.”

The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) wanted to find out if it would be worthwhile to reimburse for amyloid PET scans. These scans are very expensive and not covered by Medicare or health insurance plans, making them inaccessible to those who might benefit from them. For the cost to be covered by CMS, it must be demonstrated that the patient outcomes are affected by the result of a scan. It is unclear if the results from this study will help persuade the CMS on this matter.

A second phase of the IDEAS Study recently ended in February 2019, however, it may take up to a year to be published. Conducting another IDEAS Study in the future with a more diverse study population and to address other gaps in the previous study is also being discussed.

For more information about the IDEAS Study visit the following links:

If you are interested in other biomedical research, visit JAMA’s website.

Results from IDEAS Study Published [Internet]. ALZFORUM. [cited 2019Apr16]. Available from: https://www.alzforum.org/news/research-news/results-ideas-study-published
DanThemes. [Internet]. The IDEAS Study – Brain amyloid imaging in Alzheimer’s disease. [cited 2019Apr16]. Available from: https://www.ideas-study.org/about/educational-resources/the-ideas-study-brain-amyloid-imaging-in-alzheimers-disease/
Imaging Dementia-Evidence for Amyloid Scanning (IDEAS) Study – Full Text View [Internet]. Imaging Dementia-Evidence for Amyloid Scanning (IDEAS) Study – Full Text View – ClinicalTrials.gov. [cited 2019Apr16]. Available from: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02420756?term=IDEAS&cond=Alzheimer Disease&cntry=US&rank=3