December 5, 2018

Today's Top Alzheimer's News


Read CEOi’s (Global CEO Initiative on Alzheimer’s Disease) latest white paper, “Improving Detection and Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias: An Urgent Call to Action for Health Care Systems Worldwide,” co-authored by UsAgainstAlzheimer’s Chairman George Vradenburg, CEOi Lead Drew Holzapfel, and global healthcare consultant Cassie Dormond. According to the paper, “Two primary, complementary strategies have emerged. First, innovative drugs aimed at those people demonstrating the earliest signs of dementia are now poised to come onto the market in the next few years… Second, new research has demonstrated that lifestyle changes, management of risk factors, and other medical care strategies may be able to defer or prevent the development of dementia symptoms.” CEOi is a private-sector initiative designed to answer the call of political leaders for industry to help address the costs of Alzheimer’s disease. UsA2 is a convener of CEOi.


A December 4, 2018 U.S. News commentary by Cleveland Clinic neurologists Marwan Sabbagh, MD and James Leverenz, MD says we have entered a “transformative era in Alzheimer's research….” which will “…ultimately reclassify the loss of memory and other cognitive abilities from ‘terminal disease’ to ‘chronic disease.’” They point to personalized medicine as the future of prevention and treatment, and agree with Dr. Eliezer Masliah of the NIA, “We are learning more about genetic and environmental risk factors, and we need to start differentiating Alzheimer's patients based on genetics, environmental exposure and clinical history. This might be more effective than a one-size-fits-all type of approach.”

A December 4, 2018 UW Medicine Newsroom release referenced new research that classifies patients with Alzheimer’s disease into six cognitive subgroups, based on cognitive functioning and biological differences, which may open the door for future personalized medicine treatments. According to the article, “While world leaders want to find a cure for Alzheimer’s by 2025, so far no one has been able to develop an effective treatment, let alone a cure. This study suggests that thinking of Alzheimer’s disease as six distinct conditions may provide a way forward. “This study is not the end, it’s a start,” said [lead study author lead author Shubhabrata] Mukherjee.” Also covered by Medical Express and EurekAlert! 


According to a December 4, 2018 The Guardian article, researchers at Stanford University found a protein, they named “Regina,” that is active in the earliest stages of human embryo development, when it is thought to build up a supply of stem cells. “Regina could usher in new treatments for disorders that are caused by cells dying off, such as Alzheimer’s disease, heart failure and muscle wastage. The team is now investigating the protein in more detail with the hope of finding drugs that mimic its behaviour in the body. If such drugs can be found, they may help doctors to regenerate patients’ worn-out or damaged tissues by increasing their supplies of stem cells,” said team lead Kevin Wang.


A December 3, 2018 CFHA (Collaborative Family Health Association) blog post by clinical psychologist Barry J. Jacobs, PsyD looked at the potential role of families and family caregivers in reducing patients’ healthcare costs. Physicians may feel a general leeriness towards families that they view as making their job harder or making unrealistic demands. However, “…Some of the nation’s biggest health insurance companies, including United Healthcare, Centene, AmeriHealth Caritas, and others, [who] have launched pilot caregiver support programs, especially for family members whose loved ones are receiving managed Long-Term Services and Supports… They believe that well-trained, devoted and hardy family caregivers, primed to partner with willing healthcare and social service providers, may be the key to holding down healthcare and long-term care costs.”


A December 5, 2018 Calgary Herald article spotlighted work in Calgary, Canada to bolster caregivers. Caregivers Strategies for Dementia workshops, run monthly by the Alzheimer’s Society of Calgary, ranks education for caregivers as vitally important. The six-hour workshop educates about the many kinds of dementia, changes in the brain, preparation for the future, and practical caregiving strategies. Self-care is also emphasized, as caregiving for a person with dementia can cause stress, social isolation and health issues, including depression.