August 13, 2019

Today's Top Alzheimer's News


An August 12, 2019 Science Daily article focused on lysosomal storage and its connection to Alzheimer’s disease. A new study from University of California, Riverside researchers found that if the lysosome is not working properly, old proteins and lipids are not broken-down as they should be. “The brains of people who have lysosomal storage disorder, another well-studied disease, and the brains of people who have Alzheimer's disease are similar in terms of lysosomal storage. But lysosomal storage disorder symptoms show up within a few weeks after birth and are often fatal within a couple of years. Alzheimer's disease occurs much later in life. The time frames are, therefore, very different,” said team lead Ryan R. Julian.

An August 12, 2019 MIT News article spotlighted work from researchers who created a tissue model showing beta-amyloid’s damaging effects on the blood-brain barrier, discovering that molecules can enter the brain and cause additional damage to Alzheimer’s neurons. They found that a drug which restores the blood-brain barrier can slow down AD neuron cell death. “What we were trying to do from the start was generate a model that we could use to understand the interactions between Alzheimer’s disease neurons and the brain vasculature. Given the fact that there’s been so little success in developing therapeutics that are effective against Alzheimer’s, there has been increased attention paid to CAA [cerebral amyloid angiopathy] over the last couple of years,” said Professor Roger Kamm.


An August 9, 2019 article spotlighted “gamma oscillation entrainment” technology, which is the focus of a feasibility study to try and treat Alzheimer’s disease by clearing amyloid plaque from the brain. The device, the GammaSense Stimulation System, utilizes flashing light and pulsing sound. According to the article, “The synchronized light and sound modulated the brain waves of the mice in a way that unleashed waste-cleansing cells in the brain, washing away large swaths of amyloid plaque. These mice had the equivalent of advanced Alzheimer’s and yet after just one week of treatment, they showed significant improvement in memory and regained the ability to navigate a maze they previously were getting lost in.” Find more information on study eligibility here.

According to an August 8, 2019 Fierce Biotech article, a study by Eli Lilly, Apple and Evidation Health found that a combination of consumer (tablets and other connected) devices and mobile apps may help spot people with Alzheimer’s-related mild cognitive impairment or mild dementia. Researchers utilized iPhones, Apple Watches, iPads and Apple’s Beddit sleep monitor to detect subtle symptoms of cognitive and behavioral changes. “We know that insights from smart devices and digital applications can lead to improved health outcomes, but we don't yet know how those resources can be used to identify and accelerate diagnoses. The results of the trial set the groundwork for future research that may be able to help identify people with neurodegenerative conditions earlier than ever before,” said Evidation data scientist Nikki Marinsek. Also covered by Technology Review


An August 9, 2019 Time article focused on the positive impacts of exercise on cognition, specifically which biological processes change. A study from a group of University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health researchers, led by Ozioma Okonkwo, utilized participants from the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention who are cognitively normal, but have heightened risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Brain scans showed that those who exercised at moderate intensity, at least 150 minutes a week, experienced significant changes. “The association between age and Alzheimer’s brain changes was blunted. Even if [Alzheimer’s] got worse, it didn’t get worse at the same speed or rate among those who are physically active as in those who are inactive,” said Okonkwo.


An August 10, 2019 The Washington Post Health perspective piece by Mary-Ellen Deily, who relied on her own experience with her mom’s Alzheimer’s disease, looked at how anxiety can complicate dementia. Deily mom’s life-long anxiety, which was manageable when she was healthy, is reaching new heights as she progresses through the stages of AD. 80% of people with dementia deal with anxiety and agitation, which may be good early indicators of cognitive issues. According to the piece, “Anxiety can be a byproduct of the transition from the normal aging brain to cognitive impairment, some experts said. Understandably, it can also be triggered when people with dementia experience stressful events associated with changing bodies and minds, such as having to move from their home of many years. And, then there are people such as my mom, who has always been a worrier but had also been a high-functioning person who managed to cope with her worries and get on with her life. After Alzheimer’s entered the picture, that has been less and less possible.”


Alzheimer’s Dailies will take a short hiatus from August 14-16th, and return on Monday the 19th.