Today’s Top Alzheimer’s News
A July 14, 2017 The New York Times article focused on the theory that astrocytes, the body’s way of fending off brain infections, may be a key to unlocking the Alzheimer’s puzzle. In modern humans, astrocytes may flip into a “killer mode,” becoming assassins that spew out toxins and destroy the very cells they once nursed, including neurons and synapses. According to Dr. Shane Liddelow of Stanford University, “Ten years ago, very few scientists were looking at whether the immune system was related to Alzheimer’s, but that question has just exploded. At every scientific meeting I’m at, everyone’s talking about this question: Why are some people with lots of amyloid plaques — the people who, according to our models, should get Alzheimer’s — protected from this runaway immune response? I think the answer will come from looking at immune cells of humans around the world living in different environments… For our ancestors, an ApoE4 gene could have been beneficial.”
A July 13, 2017 The Hill article spotlighted the push by a group of bipartisan lawmakers for the Credit for Caring Act, which would provide a federal, nonrefundable tax credit of up to $3,000 for family caregivers who work. The legislation was discussed at The Hill’s Cost of Caring: Family Caregivers and Tax Reform event, sponsored by AARP. Among the personal stories shared, Rep. Dan Donovan’s (R-N.Y.) mother had dementia. Choosing for her to live at home, he spent about $60,000 he had saved within a year. “My goal was to keep her home no matter what it cost,” Donovan said.
A July 13, 2017 Miami Herald article looked at the elevated risk for Alzheimer’s disease among African Americans. The Alzheimer’s Association has labeled it “a silent epidemic.” In the next 30 years, 6.9 million African Americans will reach the age of risk for AD, with nearly half currently over age 85 affected by it. Black populations are twice as likely to develop late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Participation of African Americans in research studies is essential to discover new targets for drug development and therapeutic treatments. The Hussman Institute aims to address equality within genomic medicine and research, and works on community engagement, presenting information and answering questions at churches, community organizations, local events and Alzheimer’s caregiver support groups.
RESEARCH, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
A July 14, 2017 Pharma Times article reported on the formation of the TriBEKa Consortium, comprised of research teams from three countries - the UK, Spain and Sweden - working on a brain imaging project to shed new light on the first factors that determine risk of dementia and design future prevention trials. They will use PET and MRI technologies to detect harmful build-up of chemicals associated with dementia and measure brain structure. Project data will be available to the global science community using the Global Alzheimer's Association Interactive Network (GAAIN).
According to a July 13, 2017 The Guardian article, a new report from Public Health England finds that Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are the biggest cause of death among women in the UK. Women can expect to live nearly a quarter of their lives in ill-health. “Since 2001, death rates from heart disease and stroke have halved for both males and females. Over the same time deaths from dementia and Alzheimer’s have increased by 60% in males and have doubled in females.”