Today's Top Alzheimer's News
A July 12, 2018 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article featured “Forget Me Not,” a stage play about the impact of Alzheimer’s disease on a black family. Melita Terry, the outreach coordinator for the University of Pittsburgh’s Alzheimer Disease Research Center, is bringing the play to the August Wilson Center Downtown this Saturday to boost African-American participation in AD trials. Research shows that Alzheimer’s or related dementia can be up to twice as likely to occur within the black population. According to Stephanie Monroe of AfricanAmericansAgainstAlzheimer’s, “There’s a lot of denial, and a lot of shame about symptoms. People closet themselves, stay in the house, don’t do social interaction anymore.” UsAgainstAlzheimer’s has been sponsoring the play for the past five years.
According to a July 12, 2018 The Atlantic article, it was long unknown exactly what role amyloid beta in the brain plays, but it was demonized as simply “bad.” New research now posits the protein as “a foot soldier of our immune system” - protecting neurons from infectious microbes. It is now thought that if amyloid beta latches onto viruses (herpes in particular) in large numbers for too long, it forms plaques, a major indicator of Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists who suggested the link between viruses and AD in the past were dismissed or ignored. According to the article, “It’s possible that these herpes viruses are mere hitchhikers that are more likely to infect brains that are already deteriorating.” Also covered by IFL Science, Gizmodo, and others.
RESEARCH AND SCIENCE
A July 11, 2018 Newsweek article looked at the link between high blood pressure (blood pushing against the walls of the arteries at too high a force for a prolonged period of time), a common condition, and Alzheimer’s disease. Data from a study of 1,288 participants revealed an association between higher than average systolic blood pressure in the years leading up to an individual’s death, and the number of brain tangles, a major hallmark of AD. According to Dr. Doug Brown of the Alzheimer’s Society, “While this study linked raised blood pressure later in life to early changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease—a build-up of tangles—it was an observational study and we don’t know if the people studied had a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease so we cannot draw firm conclusions.” Also covered by CNN.
A July 9, 2018 Labiotech article explored the BAN2401 monoclonal antibody treatment for Alzheimer’s disease from Stockholm-based BioArctic, which targets amyloid plaques, a major indicator of AD. Clinical results show that the drug can slow progression in people with early-stage disease. According to the article, “…This is the first time an Alzheimer’s treatment demonstrated the potential to slow disease progression and reduce amyloid plaques in a late-stage clinical trial. BAN2401 is the most advanced candidate in BioArctic’s pipeline.”
A July 12, 2018 BBC News article focused on why women are nearly two-thirds more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than men. Statistics show that U.S. women over 60 are twice as likely to develop AD as breast cancer, and in England, Wales and Australia, dementia is now the leading cause of death for women. Certain cognitive decline risk factors only affect women, including surgical menopause and pregnancy complications like pre-eclampsia. According to Maria Teresa Ferretti at the University of Zurich, “The most obvious differences that come out of the literature are in the display and progression of cognitive and psychiatric symptoms between men and women with Alzheimer’s disease. Based on these new studies we can design new hypotheses and figure out new ways to improve treatment of patients.”
PROFILES IN COURAGE
A July 11, 2018 Kane County Chronicle article spotlighted Mary Doyle Brodien, working to raise Alzheimer’s disease awareness. Her magician husband, Marshall, has had AD for 15 years, and was well known as Wizzo The Wacky Wizard on WGN Channel 9’s “Bozo’s Circus.” She penned the book, “Navigating Alzheimer’s: 12 Truths about Caring for Your Loved One,” helping caregivers cope with the reality of Alzheimers.