January 8, 2020

Today's Top Alzheimer's News


A January 8, 2020 STAT First Opinion piece laid-out a “New Commitment to Patients,” from leaders in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and academia, and life science investors. The core principals and actions include ensuring broad patient access, and acting with integrity and responsibility. “By supporting this New Commitment to Patients, we express our conviction that we must develop medicines with patients as our primary concern. We are confident that in doing so we will best serve the interests of patients, their caregivers, and health care providers, as well as those of our shareholders and society at large.”

A January 8, 2020 Chemistry World article looked at current thinking on the potential approval of Biogen’s aducanumab. The failure and then revival of the drug is unprecedented and continues to be met with both skepticism and optimism. According to the article, “The consensus view was that in future, for chronic neurodegenerative disease, interim analysis should only stop trials causing harm, but not when the jury is still out,” said Dennis Selkoe of Brigham and Women’s Hospital.


A January 8, 2020 Technology Networks article highlighted a new study of Finnish people with Alzheimer’s disease which found that antipsychotic medications are linked to a 29% increased risk of head injuries. “Persons with Alzheimer's disease have a higher risk of falling, head injuries, and traumatic brain injuries and worse prognosis after these events in comparison to those without Alzheimer's disease. Therefore, it is important to avoid further increasing risk with antipsychotics in this vulnerable population, if possible,” said lead study author Vesa Tapiainen, MD of the University of Eastern Finland.


A January 7, 2020 Tech Explorist article spotlighted the Neuro RX Gamma headset, a new device which shines near-infrared energy light through the skull and nostrils in order to restore memory to people with Alzheimer’s disease. The brain photobiomodulation (PBM) headset was designed for daily, in-home treatments. According to the article, “The light enhances the mitochondria that supply cells with energy through a process called photobiomodulation and stimulates the brain to activate immune cells known as microglia that fight disease and try to get rid of it. The innovation was announced after the first major trial to see its effectiveness, and the headset improved writing and reading skills, restored memory, improved sleep rates, anxiety, and stress, reduced tantrums, and raised cognitive development.”


A January 6, 2020 USA Today article reported on a clinical trial to test new retinal screening technology for the detection of early Alzheimer’s disease. The eye scan, which would be administered by optometrists and ophthalmologists, would be cheaper and simpler than current methods of diagnosis. The trial, from the University of Rhode Island, Butler Hospital and BayCare Health System, is enrolling now. According to URI’s Peter Snyder, “If clinicians see changes, they could refer their patients to specialists early on. We believe this could significantly lower the cost of testing. We may then identify more people in the very earliest stage of the disease…” Also covered by WPRI Eyewitness News