Today's Top Alzheimer's News
In a letter released on January 12, 2017 by UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, Co-Founder and Chairman George Vradenburg said the negative clinical trial of a once-promising Alzheimer’s drug, Solanezumab, which showed clinically insignificant ability to slow cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients, should be viewed not as a failure, but as a development that “provides valuable lessons and suggests a way forward in the fight against Alzheimer’s.”
A January 11, 2017 NewsWise article reported that scientists at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg have identified the USP9 gene, a potential new starting point for the development of Alzheimer's treatments. The research team, led by Dr. Enrico Glaab, published their findings in the journal Molecular Neurobiology. "The risk of developing Alzheimer's disease at an advanced age is much higher in women than in men - even after adjusting for the longer average life expectancy of women," says Dr. Glaab. The research project was funded with prize money won in a 2013 worldwide data mining competition looking at sex-based differences in AD, held by the Geoffrey Beene Foundation, 21st Century Brain Trust (21CBT) and BrightFocus Foundation. The Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer's Initiative and 21CBT are lead by UsA2 Founding Board Member, Meryl Comer.
A January 11, 2017 Caring.com article reports on reasons to be hopeful about the future of Alzheimer's disease. "After looking into 2016 research findings, initiatives and information on treatment and prevention, I was heartened by what I found. Before we say farewell to 2016, let’s stop and look for hope on the horizon, not to make us complacent but to keep the positive momentum going forward," writes Caring.com author, Dave Singleton. Among his reasons for hope he cites: awareness growth, drop in dementia rates, joint AD-Parkinson's research, and major clinical trials aimed at AD prevention.
A January 6, 2017 News Medical Life Sciences article reported on the strong link between Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology, and symptoms of Parkinson's (PD) or dementia with Lewy Body (DLB). In most-mortem studies, patients with PD or DLB had higher levels of AD pathology and more severe symptoms, according to research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. In the near future, researchers will study how cognitive decline relates to AD pathology in LBD, to improve treatments for all these disorders.
RESEARCH, SCIENCE, AND TECHNOLOGY
A January 13, 2017 Austin Chronicle article reports on the potential of video games to change research and problem solving in healthcare. The free smartphone game (mobile app), Sea Hero Quest, with its groundbreaking approach to data collection, i.e. crowdsourcing medical data through gaming, is leading to earlier dementia diagnoses. Crowdsourcing for data collection is fairly new, but gaming for research is well established. 2.5 million people have played Sea Hero Quest (created by Glitchers, with University College London, University of East Anglia, and Alzheimer's Research), providing scientists with years' worth of data across borders and demographics. Players generate rich data sets by navigating mazes, shooting flares into baskets, photographing sea creatures, and answering simple demographic questions. Looking to the future, virtual reality will provide increased opportunities for data collection. "The idea of crowdsourced data-gathering games for research is a new and exciting method of obtaining data that would be prohibitively expensive otherwise," says Paul Toprac, who along with his colleague Matt O'Hair, run the Simulation and Game Applications (SAGA) Lab at University of Texas Austin. "Games are great at motivation and inspiring people to succeed,"says O'Hair. "We're figuring out ways to integrate games and self-management so that patients develop an intrinsic desire to learn about their condition and live healthier lives... The games can also track player performance and then send automated notifications to health workers if or when certain patients need human assistance."
A January 11, 2017 Smithsonian article reports on mice with artificially-induced Alzheimer’s, in MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory lab, receiving a new treatment: exposure to visual stimulation from rapidly-flashing, white LED strip lights. "I think this is the first study, not just showing that gamma oscillation has an effect on beta amyloid levels, but really it’s the first study to even think about gamma oscillations and molecular and cellular changes in the brain,” says Li-Huei Tsai, author of the study (which appeared in Nature). It isn’t yet known why induced gamma oscillations seem to lead to less beta amyloid plaque, however up to a 50% reduction [in generation of the plaque] seems to be suppressed by the treatment. It may be useful in other diseases such as autism and psychiatric disorders. Tsai founded Cognito Therapeutics to work toward human trials.