Today's Top Alzheimer's News

George Vradenburg talks about the importance of biomarkers, the White House announces it will hold a conference on aging in 2015, and a Q&A with World Dementia Envoy Dennis Gillings (read more).  

Must reads

  • A July 29, 2014 Xconomy article highlighted the importance of biomarkers "to point the way for researchers to develop Alzheimer’s interventions." According to the article, "The Alzheimer’s patient advocate group USAgainstAlzheimer’s has a rallying cry of stopping Alzheimer’s by 2020. But here’s the founder George Vradenburg, a former top media executive, on the complexity of discovering, then validating biomarkers for early detection and intervention: “I think the [technical] sophistication will be there in the next few years, but I don’t know if it will be practicable at a clinical level.” He thinks a spate of trials in people at risk but asymptomatic, including one called A4 and another called DIAN, that are using “virtually every known technique” to record biomarkers, will point to ones to rely on within a few years. But it could remain complicated. Each stage of the disease could have its own set of markers, and measuring them could be intrusive or costly (or both) for patients. For example, Vradenburg says, imagine a person saying to his or her doctor, “I’m worried my memory is slipping,” but the normal cognitive assessments (which have their own flaws) show nothing. Is the doctor going to prescribe a couple different brain scans and a spinal tap? At that point, says Vradenburg, “you won’t give a test for it unless it’s relatively inexpensive and painless,” which, respectively would rule out the brain scans and the spinal tap, as currently offered."
  • A July 29, 2014 White House Blog post by Cecilia Muñoz, Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council, announced the White House will hold a Conference on Aging in 2015. According to Muñoz, "The 2015 White House Conference on Aging is an opportunity to look ahead to the issues that will help shape the landscape for older Americans for the next decade…We are delighted to announce that Nora Super will be leading this effort as the newly named Executive Director of the 2015 White House Conference on Aging…We intend to use the year ahead to be as creative as possible about using new technology, agencies’ regional offices, partners, and other strategies to engage directly with older Americans and stakeholders on these issues. We are looking forward not only to the Conference, but to a year of engagement and dialogue about older Americans’ issues and the opportunity to celebrate all that older Americans continue to contribute to our country."
  • A July 29, 2014 Del Mar Times opinion piece by Dr. Michael S. Rafii, UC San Diego Alzheimer's researcher, underscored the importance of clinical trial participation to fight Alzheimer's. According to Dr. Rafii, "In the San Diego region, researchers at UCSD and other clinical research organizations are committed to providing patients with access to studies that will help advance research on Alzheimer’s at all stages of the disease. To push this initiative forward, UCSD is participating in the NOBLE Study, a clinical trial of a medication that uses a neuroprotectant approach that has been successful in many central nervous system disorders, including stroke and Parkinson’s disease. The study will focus on evaluating a medication specifically for those with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. The NOBLE study is one example of how patients and their families can play a critical role in helping researchers find new treatments to improve the lives of those affected by Alzheimer’s, and we look forward to  working with the San Diego community to meet this pressing healthcare challenge."
  • A July 28, 2014 AlzForum article highlighted the UK's commitment to battling Alzheimer's and includes a Q&A with the World Dementia Envoy Dennis Gillings. According to Gillings, "Awareness. It has increased by more than 50 percent, according to market research indicating that people over 50 in the U.K. are now more worried about dementia than cancer. That is amazing. It points to a shift in public perception. This galvanizes the politics. I would also say that David Cameron’s personal involvement has been enormously beneficial, because that automatically raises the profile." 

 

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