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* Radioactive agent to be used with PET imaging scans
* To be available in Europe in 2nd quarter
* Lilly shares close up 0.9 percent
Jan 15 (Reuters) - European health regulators on Tuesday approved Eli Lilly and Co's imaging agent used to detect brain plaques that are considered a likely cause of Alzheimer's disease.
It was approved in Europe for use in adult patients with cognitive impairment who are being evaluated for Alzheimer's disease and other causes of memory and reasoning problems.
The radioactive diagnostic called Amyvid, which is used in conjunction with Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging tests, was approved for use in the United States last April.
Amyvid can help detect beta-amyloid plaque build-up in the brain. The plaques, which have been associated with Alzheimer's disease, were previously only detectable through autopsy.
Amyvid is injected into the bloodstream, where it crosses the blood-brain barrier and selectively binds to amyloid plaques that can then be detected by a PET scan. A negative scan result reduces the likelihood that a patient's cognitive impairment is due to Alzheimer's disease, the company said.
The imaging agent is due to be available in Europe beginning in the second quarter of this year, Lilly said.
The company is also developing potential treatments for memory-robbing Alzheimer's disease.
Eli Lilly shares closed up 49 cents at $53.29 on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday.