January 8, 2019

Today's Top Alzheimer's News


A January 8, 2019 New Atlas article looked at new research helping to explain how exercise triggers beneficial effects on the brain, which could aid in the prevention of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. A new study suggests that an exercise-induced hormone, irisin, may improve brain plasticity and memory by preventing, or at least slowing, the onset of neurodegeneration. According to the article, “Experts suggest that the discordancy in different study conclusions points to a growing problem in dementia research. Many prospective treatments may be incredibly promising in terms of preventing the onset of dementia and Alzheimer's, however, once the cognitive damage has taken hold these treatments may be ineffective.” Also covered by Medical ExpressNew Scientist, and others.

A January 7, 2019 JAMA Network editorial by Lisa L. Barnes, PhD of the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center questioned what underlies racial disparities in Alzheimer’s disease research, especially for African Americans. According to Barnes, “…There is an unfortunate lack of biological data on this population, causing knowledge of the drivers of the disparities to lag far behind… Molecular biomarker data in minority populations are rare and, as a consequence, few studies are able to examine racial differences in AD biomarkers… Future work with biomarkers in minority populations should consider adding important sociocultural variables... to understand the association of biofluid biomarkers and genetics with aging and AD in older African American individuals.” Barnes serves on the AD-PCPRN Diversity Advisory Council, an initiative of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s.


A January 7, 2019 NPR radio segment highlighted new research from the Knight Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Washington University in St. Louis showing that the biological mechanisms underlying Alzheimer’s disease may differ in different racial groups. Cerebrospinal fluid in African-Americans tends have have lower levels of tau protein, however, this does not seem to protect them from AD. Cognitive neuropsychologist Lisa Barnes, who wrote an accompanying editorial, says the study has limitations, but was excited to see it “because we have so little data” on African-Americans. Also covered by Medical ExpressWebMD, and others.


A January 4, 2019 Medical Xpress article reported on a study researching the link between high blood pressure and an increased risk for dementia. Researchers followed participants, average age 65, with high blood pressure, for four years, Participants underwent brain imaging scans and cognitive function testing assessing execution, memory and attention. The study’s goal is to find new ways to detect minor types of cognitive impairment, which may help determine risk for early-stage dementia.


A January 7, 2019 NJ.com article looked to figures in a new statewide study from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind for Alzheimer’s New Jersey. Thanks to rising advocacy about the benefits of early diagnosis, Alzheimer’s is ‘coming out of the shadows’ in NJ, and more people are seeking diagnosis than ever before. However, only about half of respondents said their doctor suggested support programs for post-diagnosis. “That’s where more education has to occur, to have physicians become more aware what services are available,” said Kenneth Zaentz of Alzheimer’s New Jersey.


(ICYMI) A December 16, 2018 The Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne, IN) article spotlighted Aimmie Jenkins, who is Indiana's Dole Caregiver Fellow for 2018-19. As an Elizabeth Dole Foundation volunteer, she advocates for military and veteran caregivers in their communities and before Congress. Jenkins is caregiver to her husband, Andrew, who is a veteran suffering from a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. According to the article, “The foundation describes military and veteran caregivers as Hidden Heroes. Aimmie said one of her goals is to add Fort Wayne, New Haven and Columbia City to the list of the foundation's Hidden Heroes Cities, which agree to commit resources to support caregivers.”