March 13, 2019

Today's Top Alzheimer's News


A March 12, 2019 NIH Director’s Blog by Dr. Francis Collins celebrated progress made, by the (partially) NIH-funded International Genomics of Alzheimer’s Project consortium, toward explaining the genetic component of Alzheimer’s disease. The analysis, based on the largest-ever genomic study of AD, identified variants in five new genes that put people at greater risk for developing Alzheimer’s, confirmed previous research implicating 20 other genes, and points to molecular pathways for prevention. According to Collins, “Each of these newly discovered variants contributes only a small amount of increased risk, and therefore probably have limited value in predicting an average person’s risk of developing AD later in life. But they are invaluable when it comes to advancing our understanding of AD’s biological underpinnings and pointing the way to potentially new treatment approaches.”


A March 12, 2019 CNN article questioned the connection between diet and dementia. A new study showed “no significant association” between healthy eating in midlife and a person’s likelihood to develop dementia. But experts pushed back against the self-reported data and the relative notion of ‘healthy.’ “Getting a high score on this scale ... doesn't necessarily mean to me that a person followed a brain-healthy diet,” said neurologist Dr. Richard Isaacson of Weill Cornell Medicine. According to the article, “Isaacson said the research is strong, in a sense, for how long it followed participants, but it's always important to look at who's being studied for commonalities in diet, exercise, stressors, education level and other factors that could skew the data one way or the other.” Also covered by Web MD


A March 12, 2019 Medical Express article spotlighted a major new study which finds ‘dramatic differences’ in the brains of Hispanics with dementia, compared to non-Hispanic whites and African Americans. Latinos were much more likely to have cerebrovascular disease, and mixed pathologies, while non-Hispanic whites were found to have the most Alzheimer's disease overall. According to principal study investigator Charles DeCarli of UC Davis Alzheimer's Center, “If you are Latino and diabetic or black and hypertensive, you are probably at higher risk for dementia and these risks should be addressed aggressively. It's a way to tailor our approach to the individual, and it's something we want to do as early as possible.”


A March 12, 2019 Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement post by neurologist Daniel C. Potts, MD, FAAN reflected on personhood as it relates to people with dementia or other cognition disorders. In our hypercognitive society that values brains, how are people with dementia viewed? He writes, “My two dear friends and fellow advocates, Lynda Everman and Don Wendorf, and colleagues have recently edited an upcoming book about dementia worship titled Dementia-friendly Worship: A Multifaith Handbook for Chaplains, Clergy and Faith Communities…. [coming out] in June 2019. One of the themes of the book is the concept of souls “shining forth,” giving their unquenchable light to the world despite the dark days of dementia. We should look for that light in everyone, and in so doing, our light will shine more brightly, as well.”


According to a March 11, 2019 EurekAlert! release, a first-of-its-kind study out of Finland assessed head and traumatic brain injury incidence among people with Alzheimer's disease. They were found to have approximately 30% higher risk of head injuries and 50% higher risk of traumatic brain injuries. The findings highlight the importance of fall prevention for people with AD, which can lead to the loss of independence and earlier need for residential care.