Today's Top Alzheimer's News

The need to define "dementia" to cure it, more on the power of tech to transform dementia care, George Vradenburg talks about proposed  Alzheimer's "megafund", and Georgetown University puts a focus on recruiting diverse participants for Alzheimer's medical trial (read more). 

Must reads

  • A June 23, 2014 The Telegraph opinion piece by author Max Pemberton traced the difficult path to "curing" dementia. According to Pemberton, "While I support the sentiments behind Cameron’s speech, I’m not convinced it will be as easy to find new drugs for this condition, which is not a disease in itself but an umbrella term used to describe symptoms of memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language.The commonest type, Alzheimer’s, results in chemical and structural changes in the brain; this is a quite different disease process to the second most common, vascular dementia, which is caused by changes in blood flow to the brain. Rarer forms of dementia include Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), which is caused by an infectious particle known as a prion. So dementia is not a clinical diagnosis in itself, although the public, politicians and even some doctors use the term as if it were. Developing effective treatments will depend on the underlying pathology that is being targeted."
  • A June 23, 2014 The Guardian opinion piece by Wendy Hall highlighted the potential of technology to help people with dementia stay in their homes. According to Hall, "Not only could an integrated system of technology allow people to live independently; it could also alleviate the burden dementia places on our healthcare system, individuals, families and networks of care. Last week the Alzheimer's Society published its first charter on dementia-friendly technology. This charter is twofold in its impact. It outlines the needs of those with dementia to technology providers, and gives people with dementia and their carers access to information about the types of technology that they could use to help them live independently for longer. In the survey of 2,353 people, 85 per cent would want to stay living in their home if diagnosed with dementia, yet a third didn't know where to find information about how to adapt their home…Much more work needs to be done to truly revolutionise care for our family relatives with dementia. An integrated system of intelligent technologies could help provide affordable, sensitive care, and enable people with dementia to live healthier, more independent lives. That's why you should vote for dementia in the Longitude prize 2014." Dame Wendy Hall is a member of the Longitude committee and dean, faculty of physical sciences and engineering at the University of Southampton. Charter here
  • A June 23, 2014 Imperial Valley News article reposted an MIT News piece about a new Alzheimer's research funding model proposed by MIT Professor Andrew Lo. The article quoted USA2 Chairman George Vradenburg as saying, "Andrew Lo has come up with a potentially innovative approach that could, if successfully implemented, super-charge the currently under-funded Alzheimer's field."

Research, science, and technology

  • A June 22, 2014 Business Weekly (UK) article reported on a public private consortium focused on Alzheimer's research and drug development. According to the article, "MedImmune, IXICO, Johnson & Johnson Innovation (now with a Babraham base) and the University of Cambridge are in a consortium created by The Medical Research Council in the form of the UK Dementias Research Platform (UKDP) – a £16 million public-private partnership set up to speed up research into dementias.The collaboration aims to enable earlier detection, improved treatment and, ultimately, prevention of the disease, by looking not just at what is going wrong in the brain but at the brain in the context of the whole body."
  • A June 20, 2014 Boston Globe article reported on the potential of an Alzheimer's "megafund" to tackle Alzheimer's. According to the article, "Instead of pursuing drug development in a largely sequential fashion, often focused on the exact same pathway, why not try a portfolio approach in which many targets are pursued simultaneously? Lo and colleagues argue that such a portfolio approach would broaden the net and increase the odds of finding a drug that can really treat the disease, not just the symptoms.Such an endeavor would require a big investment: the researchers assembled a portfolio of 64 possible projects, each targeting a different biological mechanism. Pursuing that would cost $38.4 billion, the researchers estimated. The financial return would be a loss, and the probability that none would result in an approved drug was real: 13 percent.Because of those risks, they suggested that a “megafund” fueled with private and public money would be the right way to underwrite such research, largely because of the savings that government health systems and taxpayers would reap if Alzheimer’s drugs were effective."
  • A June 20, 2014 WTOP article reported on Georgetown University's efforts to recruit diverse participants in a "huge international medical trial could be a gamechanger for millions of people at risk of getting Alzheimer's disease." According to the article, "Of equal concern to this Georgetown professor of neurology is getting a volunteer pool that is representative of the diversity of the Alzheimer patient population. "The people that tend to join our studies are very educated and overwhelmingly Caucasian and yet we know that Alzheimer's affects everyone," he says. Traditionally, African-Americans and Hispanics have accounted for only only a tiny fraction of the participants in clinical trials. This time, the researchers have set an ambitious target, insisting that 20 percent of those taking part in the study must come from these groups."

 

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