Another year has gone by without a cure for Alzheimer’s. Nonetheless, 2014 was a successful year for research, and the ground that’s been gained is helping us move in promising new directions.
An experiment housed in a 4-inch cube destined for launch to the International Space Station aboard the SpaceX CRS-5 cargo resupply mission could become a key step in the progress toward understanding Alzheimer’s disease and similar conditions and ultimately figuring out a way to stop them.
The 2015 government spending package, known as the ‘cromnibus,’ includes an increase of $25 million for the National Institute on Aging (NIA), with an expectation that much of the funding would support additional research into Alzheimer’s and dementia.
ClergyAgainstAlzheimer’s has published Seasons of Caring: Meditations for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregivers (available from CreateSpace and Amazon). This book is for anyone who loves and cares for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Seasons of Caring contains more than 140 original meditations from faith leaders and care specialists representing a wide and diverse range of major religious traditions, including Baptist, Buddhist, Catholic, Jewish, Lutheran, Methodist, Muslim, Presbyterian, Sikh and Unitarian Universalist among others.
In a bid to make clinical trial results more widely available, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has proposed new rules that require researchers in industry and academia to post findings of all studies funded by the federal government on a publicly available website.
After years of setbacks, Alzheimer’s researchers are sounding optimistic again. The reason: a brain protein called tau. “…people focused on amyloid beta for many years,” says Julia Gerson, a graduate student in neuroscience at the University of Texas Medical Branch, who presented a paper on tau at the neuroscience meeting. “Now it’s coming out that tau might be more important.”
10/23/2014A Farewell to His Fans and Himself
In 2011, Glen Campbell, then 75, revealed that he had Alzheimer’s disease and announced a series of farewell concerts for that fall. So “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me,” opening Oct. 24, was conceived as a behind-the-scenes record both of that final tour and of the difficult struggle of Mr. Campbell and his family against an incurable disease that afflicts more than five million Americans.
For the first time, and to the astonishment of many of their colleagues, researchers created what they call Alzheimer’s in a Dish — a petri dish with human brain cells that develop the telltale structures of Alzheimer’s disease. In doing so, they resolved a longstanding problem of how to study Alzheimer’s and search for drugs to treat it; the best they had until now were mice that developed an imperfect form of the disease
There wasn’t any hope for an HIV-AIDS cure. There wasn’t any hope for polio for a long period of time. There wasn’t any hope for a lot of these diseases. But at some point people got sufficiently angry that there wasn’t anything done that anger turned into mobilization. -George Vradenburg
Registration for the next 9-week offering of Understanding Dementia is now open. This phenomenal free (online) MOOC course is offered by the University of Tasmania, Australia, and begins Oct 13.
There’s nothing new about aging. But Alzheimer’s is not simply a byproduct of old age. It is a degenerative brain disease, a fatal one. A degenerative brain disease that almost exclusively targets people who, prior to the twentieth century, were demographic anomalies.
8/11/2014 Tactic In Alzheimer’s Fight May Be Safe
Does the absence of the APOE gene hurt the brain? If a person with this rare condition were found to be functioning normally, that would suggest support for a new direction in Alzheimer’s treatment. It would mean that efforts — already being explored by dementia experts — to prevent Alzheimer’s by reducing, eliminating or neutralizing the effects of the most dangerous version of APOE might succeed without causing other problems in the brain.
Although the exact reason why Alzheimer’s disease develops still remains elusive, scientists report that they’ve found a new protein that may play an important role in the devastating memory illness. What they don’t yet know is whether or not this new protein — called TDP-43 — is a cause of Alzheimer’s disease, or if it’s something that develops due to Alzheimer’s disease.
Solving the riddle of the aging brain takes money. And that’s a problem. The disparity in disease research funding is striking. While cancer research garners more than $5 billion in federal funds each year, Alzheimer’s research across the country receives about $560 million. That includes a new infusion of $122 million from the recently enacted National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease.
05/12/2014 Antidepressant May Slow Alzheimer’s
A commonly prescribed antidepressant can reduce production of the main ingredient in Alzheimer’s brain plaques, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of Pennsylvania.
04/29/2014 Alzheimer’s ‘could bankrupt nations’
A team of researchers led by UCLA neurologist, Dr. Lucas Restrepo, has developed a new blood test that has the potential to accurately diagnose Alzheimer’s disease. This test, developed through grant funding by the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, could significantly advance drug testing and research on the disease.
Senator Chris Coons of Delaware has joined colleagues in cosponsoring the bipartisan Alzheimer’s Accountability Act to step up investment in lifesaving Alzheimer’s research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This legislation would support implementation of the National Alzheimer’s Plan (2012) with the goal of effectively preventing and treating Alzheimer’s by 2025. The bill would require the NIH to submit an annual budget to Congress and the President to determine the level of funding needed to meet the plan’s research targets.
Based on recent findings, Dr. Wendy Qiu and her Boston University research team, propose that amylin-class peptides have potential to become a new avenue as a challenge test for diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and as well as a therapeutic for the disease. If the clinical trial proves the effect of pramlintide for Alzheimer’s disease, Qiu believes this drug can be applied to Alzheimer’s patients in only three to five years.
4/12/14 Science, Sex, and Alzheimer’s
Did you know that two-thirds of Alzheimer’s patients in the U.S. are women? The situation is dire. How many more proof points are required for urgent political action? Five million Americans and more than 44 million people worldwide are estimated to have Alzheimer’s or dementia, and the growth trajectory of victims is one every 68 seconds. By any mindful measure, we are, indeed, a generation out of time.
3/24/14 New Clues to Alzheimer’s
Two studies of Alzheimer’s disease published in respected scientific journals this month offered glimmers of hope for progress against this devastating neurological disorder. Neither advance is guaranteed to produce important clinical benefits anytime soon, but they may point the way toward new pathways to treat and diagnose a condition that impairs the thinking and memories of its victims and ultimately kills many of them.
In this commentary, David Morgan, Ph.D., is CEO of USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute in Tampa, and lead representative of the ResearchersAgainstAlzheimer’s Network says, “As a scientist researching Alzheimer’s for 30 years, I am convinced we are very close to meaningful treatments. The science is there; please help us get the resources to prove the science correct and make Alzheimer’s a memory.”
While the CDC attributed about 84,000 deaths in 2010 to Alzheimer’s, a new report estimates the number to be closer to 503,000. That puts it in a close third place, behind heart disease and cancer, and well above chronic lung disease, stroke and accidents, which rank third, fourth and fifth.
New study’s findings place Alzheimer’s nearly on par with cancer as the second most deadly disease in America. Despite this, Alzheimer’s receives a mere fraction of the research funding dedicated to cancer, which receives $5.7 billion annually compared to Alzheimer’s $550 million in funding.
Understanding Dementia MOOC is a FREE online dementia course available internationally. They had almost 9500 participants in their first offering and REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN for the next course which begins on March 31st.
The Purple Angel logo is the international symbol representing all types of dementia. Late last year, 50 international Purple Angel Ambassadors, hailing from England, Germany, Australia, Nepal, Bangladesh, Singapore, Ukraine, Canada, and the United States, were appointed. Since then, the campaign has grown by leaps and bounds.
The SNIFF study and the A4 Trial are getting under way. Both trials are conducted through ADCS. SNIFF is enrolling participants at several sites now, with more opening over the next few months. As sites are approved, the SNIFF webpage will be updated. A4 expects to begin enrolling participants later this spring and will launch a website later this month.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced an unprecedented commitment by 10 biopharmaceutical companies and several nonprofits, including USAgainstAlzheimer’s, to pool resources and expertise in order to speed the discovery of drug treatments for Alzheimer’s and a targeted number of other chronic diseases.
Researchers at Cleveland Clinic are participating in a new clinical trial designed to test the effectiveness of using a currently-approved diabetes drug to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s Disease in people who are predisposed to develop the condition. The study will also look at whether a new genetic biomarker, TOMM40, is an additional indication of a patient’s elevated risk of developing the disease.
1/11/14 Goodnight. Sleep Clean.
According to Danish biologist Maiken Nedergaard, sleep may play a crucial role in our brain’s physiological maintenance. As your body sleeps, your brain is quite actively playing the part of mental janitor: It’s clearing out all of the junk – beta-amyloid – that has accumulated as a result of your daily thinking.
Researchers at the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute are hoping they can find a more promising future by intervening well before any symptoms show.
Recently, the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute began a groundbreaking research trial involving more than 300 cognitively healthy volunteers from an extraordinarily large Colombian family. Thousands of members of the family carry a rare genetic mutation related to EOAD. The trial, which the National Institutes of Health has called a cornerstone in the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, relies on genetic clues that could help stave off the disease long before symptoms would manifest.
The study has implications for both research and treatment. “Now that we’ve pinpointed where Alzheimer’s starts, and shown that those changes are observable using fMRI, we may be able to detect Alzheimer’s at its earliest preclinical stage, when the disease might be more treatable and before it spreads to other brain regions,” said Dr. Small.
12/13/13 Important Medicare Policy Change
Great news for dementia patients who may benefit from occupational therapy but wouldn’t have qualified in the past because they didn’t show “measurable functional improvement.”
The suffering and costs of dementia would be reduced by preventative measures if the Group of Eight nations adopt a model that has worked in fighting heart disease, a group of doctors and scientists said.
USAgainstAlzheimer’s applauds Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) & Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) on their commitment to increase funding for Alzheimer’s research. Today they introduced a bipartisan resolution declaring the goal to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025 to be an urgent national priority and calling on Congress to double National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding for Alzheimer’s disease in FY2015 as part of a 5-year plan to commit $2 billion in annual Alzheimer’s research funding.
George Vradenburg, Chairman of USAgainstAlzheimer’s, is optimistic following The Alzheimer’s Disease Summit: Path to 2025 held recently by the Global CEO Initiative on Alzheimer’s Disease. Scientists, advocates, government agencies participated, along with representatives of finance, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, home care, biotechnology, and information technology. Voices from Asia, Europe, and North America were heard calling for a common strategy to achieve the goal of preventing and effectively treating Alzheimer’s by 2025.
A Columbia University Medical Center-led research team has clinically validated a new method for predicting time to full-time care, nursing home residence, or death for patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The method, which uses data gathered from a single patient visit, is based on a complex model of Alzheimer’s disease progression that the researchers developed by consecutively following two sets of Alzheimer’s patients for 10 years each.
Researchers from the Swedish Chalmers University of Technology and the Polish Wroclaw University of Technology now harbor high hopes that photo acoustic therapy, which is already used for tomography, could be used to remove malfunctioning proteins in the brain.
10/23/13 Upcoming FREE Webinar
SUPERBRAIN Lifestyle. Presented by the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, this webinar will feature Mariel Hemingway, Lori La Bey, and Dr. Dharma. Find out the latest on diet and exercise as well as how meditation can improve brain health.
10/21/13 Looming Crisis: Caregiver Shortage (Originally Published 8/26/13)
There are 42.1 million adults in the United States caring for friends or family members. Nearly two-thirds of those caregivers are women, and more than 80 percent of the people they care for are over 50, according to a recent report, which defined the “average” family caregiver as a 49-year-old woman who works outside the home and spends about 20 hours a week caring for her mother without pay. Two decades from now, there will be far fewer of these caregivers available and more need for them.
New research finds that during sleep, cerebral spinal fluid is pumped through the brain faster to more efficiently flush out cellular waste. These waste products include the amyloid beta proteins commonly associated with Alzheimer’s.
Discovery of the first chemical to prevent the death of brain tissue in a neurodegenerative disease has been hailed as the “turning point” in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
When you have dementia, simple tasks such as going to the grocery store, the bank or even out to a restaurant would become an ordeal and frustrating; maybe even humiliating. “Imagine being limited as to where you can go because of a disease. We have built ramps for those with mobility issues, now it is time to build ramps on an emotional and psychological basis to allow those with dementia to engage in their communities.” – Lori La Bey
10/10/13 Closer to a Cure: Could It Be?
A treatment to reverse Alzheimer’s Disease could be available in five years, it has been revealed. Experiments on mice have indicated that a new vaccine not only halts the advance of the disease, but repairs damage already done.
Third installment of a 3-part series. Like their peers, the Garner children divide their time between school, family, friends and extracurricular activities. Unlike them, their dad, Jim, 51, has Early Onset Alzheimer’s, a rare variation of the brain disease that affects millions of older Americans.
In the second part of this 3-part series, find out how Karen Garner is leading Alzheimer’s advocacy efforts in the U.S. “Thousands of people are going through the same hell. People need to know. This disease is much more than about losing the keys. It’s much, much more. It envelops you and the family, and your extended family and your friends. It’s a disease that can last 10 or 20 years,” she said.
Part 1 of a 3-part series from the Daily Press in Newport News, VA. Meet Karen and Jim Garner and their two young children; Jim was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s before his 50th birthday. How has the disease changed their lives?
UC Davis researchers think the degeneration of a small, wishbone-shaped structure deep inside the brain may provide the earliest clues regarding future cognitive decline.
Researchers in Japan have developed a chemical that could bind to tau proteins allowing positron emission tomography (PET scan) to build a 3D image showing the level of tau in the brain. Although in the early stages, if proven effective this could lead to more accurate diagnosis as well as monitoring progression.
Could the drug liraglutide, commonly used to treat diabetes, actually reverse symptoms of late stage Alzheimer’s? Researchers at Lancaster University in the UK have seen very positive results in mice, and a clinical trial led by Dr. Paul Edison of Imperial College London is now underway.
How is a “blue button” changing the American healthcare system? Read more about the program aimed at yanking medical record-keeping out of the dark ages and delivering it into the 21st century. George Vradenburg, Chairman of USAgainstAlzheimer’s, explains the benefits in this Huffington Post piece.
Medical scientists are now studying the link between Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease, hoping to find new clues that could provide a key to unlock a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Maria Shriver reports.
NBC’s Maria Shriver reports on the high emotional and financial cost of Alzheimer’s care. Hear from Jim Crabtree, an overburdened caretaker to his wife suffering from Alzheimer’s and his elderly parents whose story met an extreme end.
Did you know it’s been more than a decade since a new Alzheimer’s drug has hit the market?
While scientists have struggled to find a real therapy for Alzheimer’s disease, a new trend focuses on earlier prevention, with a first prevention trial underway. NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports.
9/3/13: Day 1 of the Today Show’s weeklong series, The Age of Alzheimer’s
9/3/13: Google+ Hangout with Maria Shriver
Following Day 1 of The Age of Alzheimer’s on the Today Show, Maria Shriver along with actors and activists Seth Rogan and Lauren Miller participated in a Google+ “hangout” to answer your questions about Alzheimer’s! Also participating were Trish and George Vradenburg, founders of USAgainstAlzheimer’s and Dr. Maria Carrillo.
Research to be presented at the Alzheimer’s Association’s international conference in Boston this week could help family doctors recognize and identify the symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer’s. TODAY’s Maria Shriver reports on how early detection has helped one woman struggling with the illness.
© Copyright 2013 by Ann Napoletan. All rights reserved.