Posted by on 7/18/2016
NeuroVision Imaging has raised significant funds to support research on retinal imaging technology to detect Alzheimer's Disease. Currently, a cerebrospinal fluid is the most common way to detect amyloid beta plaque build up in the brain (key indicator of Alzheimer's Disease). This is a painful, invasive process, and expensive. A team of researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles found that amyloid beta plaque that accumulates in the brain also builds up in the retina and shares similar plaque structures. These similar characteristics indicate that there is potential of retinal imaging for amyloid detection in Alzheimer's disease.
Posted by Allie Harris on 6/20/2016
According to the World Health Organization, societal costs and care related to dementia are estimated at over $600 billion a year. A group of researchers at Flinders University in Australia along with the Institute of Molecular Medicine and the University of California at Irvine have designed a vaccine formulation that targets the abnormal beta-amyloid and tau proteins that are prevalent in Alzheimer's disease. They have designed a study and if successful in preclinical trials then in 3-5 years, they predict they could be on the way towards developing a vaccine that could be used to prevent Alzheimer's disease and potentially stem the decline in the early stages. While this is promising, they will still need to test the vaccine's effectiveness in human trials with Alzheimer's patients following these preclinical studies....so, don't get your hopes up just yet.
Posted by Allie Harris on 5/16/2016
A recent article published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease once again gives people a reason to eat more chocolate! A team of researchers evaluated 309 people in Portugal ages 65 and older with normal cognitive function. They were given chocolate items ranging from chocolate bars to cocoa powder. After a follow-up of 48 months, the cognitive function of the participants was again evaluated using the same assessment. The results indicated that chocolate intake decreased the risk of cognitive decline by approximately 40%. Overall, the study suggests that regular, moderate long-term intake of chocolate may lessen cognitive decline and may be important in the prevention of diseases like Alzheimer's. While further studies and documentation are needed to fully substantiate this claim, there is no harm in eating more chocolate in the meantime!
Posted by Allie Harris on 4/18/2016
A recent study at the University of Texas Health Science Center has revealed that methylene blue may be used to improve memory in patients with cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer's Disease. While studies of methylene blue dating back to the 1970's have shown memory improvement in mice, this team of researchers conducted the first MRI study of methylene blue in humans. They examined 26 participants monitoring before and after taking low dose methylene blue or placebo and recorded brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging. The results indicated a 7% increase in correct responses when compared to the placebo group. While this is a small group, the study does support the hypothesis that drug-induced memory enhancement might be the wave of the future.
Posted by Allie Harris on 3/15/2016
According to “About Health”
(Feb. 2016) and the Alzheimer’s Association, scientists and researchers have
made advances in the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease with specific medications
to treat the cognitive symptoms.
There are actually 5
medications that have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for
the treatment of the cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Choinesterase inhibitors increase the levels
of acetylcholine in the brain which is responsible for learning and memory.
Some of these drugs incluce: Aricept,
Exelon and Razadyne. These drugs while
approved by the FDA still need to be regulated.
Each person responds differently to the drugs and therefore, a doctor
will often try different ones at varying levels before a final diagnosis and
recommendation is made. A forth drug,
Namenda regulates glutamate in the brain which is responsible for information
processing and learning. And, a fifth
drug was approved in 2014, called Namzaric which is a combination of Aricept
and Namenda. And while this is
encouraging, there is still way more progress to be made. These treatments address the symptoms but
they don’t cure or prevent Alzhiemer’s disease from advancing.
Posted by Alie Harris on 2/21/2016
to research conducted by the Alzheimer’s Association, there is evidence
suggesting women are disproportionately affected by Alzheimer’s disease than
men. Nearly 2/3 of the 5 million
American people living with Alzheimer’s are women. And, women in their 60’s are about twice as
likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease during the course of their lives than
Alzheimer’s Association has developed a think tank, “Gender Vulnerability
Related to Alzheimer’s Disease” to identify next steps for a research study to
understand underlying biological, hormonal and lifestyle issues which may be contributing
to this growing trend among women.
Posted by Allie Harris on 1/6/2016
Jeffrey Iliff, a brain scientist at
Oregon Health & Science University in Portland claims that lack of sleep
may lead to Alzheimer’s. According to
Iliff, the brain clears out toxins linked to Alzheimer’s when sleeping. He believes if there is not enough sleep then
the brain will build up these toxins which damage the brain.
According to Iliff, this process is
known as the glymphatic system which allows the brain to clear out toxins that
form Alzheimer’s plaques. Up until now,
Iliff has been studying mice and now in order to confirm his findings, he will
have to look at this cleansing process in people which will be difficult to do.
He hopes to begin brain scanning of
humans within a year. If he’s correct with his hypothesis, then his findings may be a way for people who have health risks
associated with sleep deprivation to get different treatments or different
drugs to help them.
Posted by Allie Harris on 12/15/2015
In October of 2015, a study published in the Alzheimer’s
Association Journal called, “Prudent Diet May Reduce Cognitive Decline” caught
my attention. The study was done in
Sweden at The Aging Research Center within the Department of Neurobiology, Care
Apparently, the study analyzed 2,223 Swedish adults 60 years
and older over a 6 year period. They
were given cognitive tests at the beginning and end of the study period. They were asked to fill out questionnaires
describing their diet. They were
categorized by a “Western” diet consisting of red and processed meats, refined
grains, and sugars verses a “Prudent” diet (or a “Mediterranean” diet) consisting
of whole grains, pasta, fish, poultry, water and low fat dairy.
The results of the study showed a statistically significant
increase in cognitive decline in those individuals that ate a “Western” diet.
So, another reason to eat healthy!
In response to this study, the Alzheimer’s Association came
up with “10 Ways to Love Your Brain” which they published on their
website. Basically, this consisted of a
list of things to do to help lessen the chance of cognitive decline. Top on the list were: regular cardiovascular
exercise, education, and eating a Mediterranean diet.
Posted by Allie Harris on 10/31/2015
According to an article in the Daily Mail, Eli Lily announced at the International Alzheimer’s meeting in Washington DC, that a new drug, Solanezumab slows or prevents Alzheimer’s disease if taken in the early stage of the disease. Apparently it destroys the toxic protein, beta amyloid which causes Alzheimer’s disease. Other drugs until now have been known to mask the symptoms but not actually cure or prevent the disease. So, this is a major breakthrough! Some people remain skeptical that there are side effects and that more clinical trials are needed on a larger population to validate the efficacy of the drug. However, it is still a step in the right direction that this drug if taken in the early stages can make a difference by slowing cognitive decline by around 30 percent.
Posted by Allie Harris on 9/30/2015
A recent study by Mt. Sinai Icahn School of Medicine revealed that caring for Dementia or Alzheimer's patients costs way more than caring for those suffering from cancer or heart disease by as much as 57%. The study further stated dementia patients and families pay 81% more in out-of-pocket expenses than patients with other diseases. This year it is estimated that it will cost the nation $226B. This is going to be a continuing problem as Alzheimers and Dementia disease becomes more widespread. It is going to be harder for people to afford the right care. Something must be done to get more of these expenses covered by insurance.
Posted by Allie Harris on 8/31/2015
I came across an article in Time, Inc. on-line which described how Alzheimer’s Disease got its name.
The second volume of the German book “General Psychiatry” was published in 1910 by Dr. Kraeplin a well-known psychiatrist. Kraeplin’s assistant in the medical school in Munich was Alois Alzheimer’s. They worked closely together. In Munich, they had a brain research lab. Alois Alzheimer noticed differences in the brain of patients with memory loss and identified the first cases of published dementia. Kraeplin actually wrote about these findings in his book and later named it Alzheimer’s disease.
Posted by Allie Harris on 7/31/2015
Significant progress has been made over the past 20 years in developing medicine that helps the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease but does not cure it. The medicines once developed must go to clinical trials and get approved by the FDA. In order for drugs to improve or for new drug treatments to be distributed, they must be approved by the FDA. So, that is why it is so important to have clinical trials. It helps provide enough evidence as to whether or not a drug is effective. According to an article in Caregiving.com, patients who participate in Alzheimer’s disease clinical trials do better over time than patients who are not in a clinical trial. The article further states that even patients on placebo do better than those who do not participate in the trial. So if you know of anyone that might be a good candidate for a clinical trial then you should encourage them to participate in one!
Posted by Allie Harris on 5/21/2015
I recently discovered an app on Itunes called “My Memory App”. It is a great memory application for people who have any kind of short-term memory loss. It is not only beneficial for people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, but it can be helpful for any age related memory loss or can even be used by people suffering from Autism.
What makes this app so great is that you can customize it for the individual who is using the app. For example, you can put in their own photos, voices of family members or friends that are recognizable to the person using the app. It can be used for very simple memory games or it can be more complex depending on the nature of the memory loss and how severe it is. You can change the complexity of the app over time as the person’s abilities change.
I know that it is difficult for caregivers to always have the support they need, and this is an easy way for them to work with the individual they are caring for not only as a memory device and activity, but as a communication tool too!
Posted by Allie Harris on 4/18/2015
This year, the 27th annual Advocacy Forum on the fight against Alzheimer’s was a huge success. Over 1,000 people (the largest turnout ever) from across the United States attended the forum to learn more about Alzheimer’s and to meet with elected officials to make their voices heard.
The big push was for $300 million in additional funding for Alzheimer’s research at NIH and support HOPE (Health Outcomes Planning and Education) for Alzheimer’s Act.
Personal stories were told before Congress with explanations for why HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act would ensure better communication and care wherever care might be needed, as well as document diagnosis listed in medical records for healthcare providers to determine appropriate care and next steps for people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.
The importance of treating Alzheimer’s as a bipartisan issue on Capitol Hill was emphasized at the hearing held on the final day of the forum on Capitol Hill. Mark your calendar for the 2016 Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum April 4-6, 2016. And to learn more about becoming an advocate for Alzheimer’s you can go to: http://alz.org/forum/advocates.asp
Posted by Allie Harris on 3/20/2015
Biogen Idec announced this week the results of their latest early stage clinical trial of their new drug, “Aducanumab”. While the news is exciting because Aducanumab showed a slower progression of memory loss in people who were showing early signs of Alzheimer’s, it still has a long way to go before it becomes truly successful.
The clinical trial only consisted of 166 volunteers who had early symptoms of Alzheimer’s. The results of the trial showed that after 26 weeks, those taking the drug had a reduction in the amyloid protein which is the protein found in the brain cells of Alzheimer’s patients and were shown to be even lower after 54 weeks. The trial also tested for memory loss and concluded a slower decline in memory loss amongst those taking Aducanumab.
However, there was a problem with the level of the dose. It was shown that those who had higher doses of the drug had greater side effects such as swelling of the brain. They were then placed on a lower dose and were fine. But, the real determinant of success will be if they can slow the memory loss and get rid of the amyloids with a lower dose of the Aducanumab.
The next step will be to test this drug on a larger group. If successful in a larger group at the appropriate dose—where the amount of the drug is strong enough to work but not cause brain swelling then this could be a HUGE breakthrough for slowing the progression of Alzheimers Disease. The clinical trial for the larger group will start at the end of this year. Stay tuned…..
Posted by Allie Harris on 2/23/2015
The film “Still Alice” is about a professor who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. It is a powerful portrayal of a strong, intelligent woman suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and how it affects her, her husband, her children and her career. Julianne Moore won Best Actress at the Oscars last night for her outstanding performance. I think this is an important film because most people think of Alzheimer’s disease as something that affects older people and are not aware of the impact it may have when someone suffers from early-onset. In this unique performance, Julianne Moore says that she feels this disease is humiliating and that she wished she had cancer because people have more sympathy when you have cancer. I think this is a significant point in the movie because people often forget how hard it is for the person with Alzheimer’s to lose their dignity as their behavior and memory deteriorate. This is all the more reason that we need to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. According to Alz.org, more than 5,000,000 people in the United States are living with the disease and it is reported that $214 billion was spent on caring for those with Alzheimer’s in 2014. And, these costs are estimated to grow to $1.2 trillion in the next 35 years. It was incredibly moving to hear Julianne Moore give such a poignant acceptance speech raising awareness of the importance of finding a cure for Alzheimer’s. I think most people would agree that after watching this movie, it makes you feel more compassionate and less critical of people’s behavior when the devastating Alzheimer’s disease takes over their life.
Posted by Allie Harris on 1/19/2015
While a cure for Alzheimer’s disease may seem unlikely, there is some new hope. Scientists have come to a point where they understand what causes Alzheimer’s in the brain. In fact, there is a team of Scientists at the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation who discovered a few years ago that there does exist nerve cells which can get rid of the toxins that cause Alzheimer’s through a process known as autophagy. They went on to develop drugs that would imitate the autophagy process which are now being tested. If these drugs are successful in destroying the beta-amyloid which is the protein that is known to cause Alzheimers then there will be great optimism for those suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Posted by Allie Harris on 12/15/2014
Making it Better…..
While dealing with a loved one suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s is never easy, there are things that are recommended which can help make it easier for both you, the caregiver and the patient/loved one. In a recent post on Dementiatoday.com, they listed the following tips for making it better:
• Make sure the Alzheimer’s/Dementia patient goes to doctor appointments regularly and that you accompany them. It is helpful to make a list of questions and keep track of recent symptoms to tell the medical professional.
• Make sure that the Alzheimer’s patient has safe medicine administration. A safety pillbox is extremely helpful, and being there to make sure that doses are not skipped and the correct doses are taken—is important.
• Exercise and sleep are critical. Try to make sure the patient gets ample of both!
• Make sure that they have mental health treatment if needed. It is very common for Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients to suffer from depression.
• Safety proof the house. Bathroom safety, handrails, extension rods are just a few of the many devices which might be helpful.
• Make sure patient has proper identification on them—necklace or bracelet. It is common for Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients to wander and get lost and having proper identification is important.
Posted by Allie Harris on 11/17/2014
In a NY Times Article this past week, it was announced that for the first time, researchers have been able to recreate the Alzheimer’s disease in a petri dish. This is an enormous breakthrough because by developing the structures of the Alzheimer’s disease in a dish, they are now able to develop drugs and test them in ways that have been unsuccessful in the past. In the past, they have used mice, but Alzheimer’s in mice is not an accurate replica of how the disease develops in humans. So, until now, there has not been a way to accurately test drugs that would work in a human.
Now, however, they have been able to grow human brain cells in a gel where they act as networks in a real brain. The researchers put Alzheimer’s disease genes in the gel and within weeks they saw the plaques and tangles that are the primary feature of Alzheimers disease.
According to one of the top Alzheimer’s researchers at Duke University, this is a huge step forward and will most likely dramatically improve the speed at which new drugs are tested.
While the petri dish is not an exact replica of the human brain, it will according to this study allow researchers to quickly and easily test drugs that might stop the process of Alzheimer’s developing.
While this new finding is important, the most critical part will be to see if drugs that work in this dish, will actually be effective in stopping Alzheimer’s in people.
Posted by Allie Harris on 10/13/2014
There was an interesting segment on CBS “Sunday Morning” on early-onset Alzheimer’s. Apparently there is a group of people that have a hereditary gene which has been discovered leads to early Alzheimer’s in their 40’s. This has occurred in approximately 1/3 of their family members. This family has agreed to be part of a research study to help predict and ultimately prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
The reason this study is so important is because through the generosity of this particular family, researchers will have the ability to examine this rare hereditary gene 15-20 years before they even develop the symptoms and use this information to potentially discover treatment and a cure. It is families like these—and dedicated medical researchers, doctors and professionals who hopefully will discover a cure for this horrible disease that is predicted by 2050 to triple among people age 65 and older, affecting as many as 16 million people.
This type of breakthrough makes me optimistic that a cure will be found for this horrible disease in my lifetime.
Posted by Allie Harris on 9/15/2014
A recent study published in Nature Medicine identified a new blood test that can predict with 90% accuracy whether someone will develop Alzheimer’s or cognitive decline within 3 years.
The researchers in this study focused on the preclinical stages of Alzheimer’s. Their hypotheses was that the reason current drugs are not effective in combating Alzheimer’s disease is because they are administered too late in the development of the disease, that is, once someone has been diagnosed and has demonstrated major cognitive decline. Their belief is that if they can identify the disease before these late stages then they would have a better chance at developing drugs that would effectively target, treat and cure the disease.
The researchers tested memory and mental skills and took blood samples from over 500 participants over the age of 70 every year for 5 years. They compared those participants that developed Alzheimer’s or cognitive impairment with those that remained cognitively healthy. They found that there was a panel of 10 blood biomarkers that predicted Alzheimer’s with 90% accuracy.
While researchers feel optimistic about this study, I’m not sure people would benefit from knowing in advance that they will develop Alzheimer’s since it still remains an incurable disease. The real breakthrough in my opinion would be to develop drugs that could be taken in advance of Alzheimer’s that would prevent it from developing.
Posted by Allie Harris on 8/18/2014
I read an interesting article on empowher.com that discusses the personality changes in someone suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Many articles are written about memory issues and confusion in Alzheimer’s patients but, very little is written about the personality changes that may take place. Some of these changes such as hostility, negative remarks, lack of patience, extreme emotional swings can all happen to people who were once calm, caring, sweet and kind. It doesn’t happen to everyone suffering from Alzheimer’s but, if you see these drastic changes in behavior, the article goes on to say that being aware that this is part of the disease will help those who are caring for, or are close to the Alzheimer’s patient to deal with it better. It should not be taken personally, if the Alzheimer’s patient lashes out in a mean way. Instead, the caregiver should be sensitive to the fact that sometimes the Alzheimer’s patient is scared of what is happening to them and this is the way that they deal with the situation. It is not easy for the patient or the caregiver, but the more you are aware and the more you read and talk to others who are experiencing similar circumstances, the easier it is to cope and manage the situation.
Posted by Allie Harris on 7/14/2014
It is great news that President Obama recently announced a plan to spend more than half a billion dollars on Alzheimer’s research for next year. The plan is part of an initiative that requests the National Institute of Health to allocate an extra $50 million to Alzheimer’s research this year.
Government support plays a key role in furthering our understanding and finding a cure for Alzheimer’s. That is why I wanted to make sure that anyone local in Illinois was aware of the annual Illinois Action Summit taking place on Wednesday, April 2, 2014. It is a day where Alzheimer’s advocates can go to Springfield to meet with Illinois legislators and encourage the prioritization of legislation for Alzheimer’s patients, caregivers and families.
It is an opportunity for Alzheimer’s supporters to have their voices heard and to encourage legislators to push for additional funding and support for Alzheimer’s. Attendees will have a chance to meet with members of both the Illinois Senate and House of Representatives.
For information on signing up, go to:
Posted by Allie Harris on 6/16/2014
There are new studies popping up daily that try to make claims on medications and vitamins that slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. And while they may not provide a cure at this time, any sign of hope that can lengthen the quality of life over time seems worth exploring.
A new research study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association for example, recently revealed that people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease who took vitamin E showed a delay in their loss of function. The patients were studied on average over a 2 year period and actually reflected a 19% improvement in their loss of function compared to those taking the placebo pill. The study showed that while Vitamin E is not a cure for Alzheimer’s, it does reduce the need for caregiver help when compared to those subjects who did not take Vitamin E.
While this might seem encouraging, there are many scientists who don’t feel that this is promising at all. A neurologist at Rush University Medical Center claims the effects of Vitamin E on Alzheimer’s is modest at best since it does not reverse or cure Alzheimer’s. Since there is so much uncertainty, the question becomes when do trust the data and when to take medications and vitamins that may show even small signs of delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s. To me, this just reinforces the need to increase funds towards finding a cure. And in the meantime, take whatever safe measures you can to try to maintain quality of life for the Alzheimer’s patients and those caring for them.
Posted by Allie Harris on 5/12/2014
There is more than one reason to eat herbs such as spearmint and rosemary. Not only do they taste great, but, a recent study indicates that antioxidants from spearmint and rosemary made into an extract can actually improve learning, memory and possibly cognitive decline.
These findings were the result of a study done at the Saint Louis University of Medicine in Missouri. And while this news is optimistic, you have to keep in mind that the experiment was done with mice so it is not clear how much rosemary and spearmint humans would have to eat to improve their memory. Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to eat more rosemary and spearmint if you can!