March 5, 2019

Today's Top Alzheimer's News


A March 4, 2019 Scientific American article looked at the growing case that inflammation “ignites a neuron-killing ‘forest fire,’” which can trigger Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. The inflammation can throw the brain ‘out of whack,’ although the exact process is under investigation. Newer technologies that reveal aggregate immune activity should begin to unwind the puzzle. A start-up, INmune Bio, is beginning its first clinical trial this spring on XPro1595, a drug that targets neuroinflammation.

A March 3, 2019 New Atlas article pointed to the known connection between disrupted sleep and Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. A new study looked at sleep apnea, focusing on increased levels of tau and episodes of stopped breathing during sleep. According to the article, “A study published last week demonstrating how deep slow wave sleep can potentially clear the brain of toxic proteins points to a compelling causal hypothesis, one that could explain how sleep apnea actively increases the accumulation of tau in the brain.” The new research will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 71st Annual Meeting in May. Also covered by Medical ExpressFox News and others.


A February 28, 2019 STAT opinion piece by associate professor and Alzheimer’s advocate Karen D. Lincoln, who is caregiver for a parent with dementia, made the case that the BOLD Act needs to take into account the needs of African-American families. Alzheimer’s deaths increased by 99 percent for African-Americans between 1999 and 2014, yet “African-Americans still have the lowest level of basic knowledge about Alzheimer’s, have few trusted sources of information for it, and have the highest risk of the disease in the United States… Poor sleep and chronic health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and chronic stress are not only risk factors for Alzheimer’s but are linked to these social determinants of health. They are also more common among African-Americans.”


A March 4, 2019 Undark article delved into the world of AI, and the efforts to train it to predict the early progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia. One method is to train algorithms to recognize patterns in structural imaging, which can show brain tissue degradation. Another is to train algorithms to analyze PET scans to detect early functional irregularities. “The goal is to take the state-of-the-art computational methods used in artificial intelligence in companies like Facebook and Google, and orient them toward health care and biomedical questions,” said Mallar Chakravarty of the Computational Brain Anatomy Laboratory at Douglas Mental Health University Institute.


According to a March 3, 2019 The Sacramento Bee opinion piece, California resident Jackie Coleman, who has early-onset Alzheimer’s, considers herself lucky to have a diagnosis. She applauds Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to prioritize Alzheimer’s prevention and preparedness, including appointing Maria Shriver to lead a new Alzheimer’s Prevention and Preparedness Task Force. Assembly Bill 388, the “California Healthy Brain Initiative,” would create the first statewide AD public awareness campaign, and fund pilot projects in local public health departments. According to Coleman, “As an Alzheimer’s patient and patient advocate, I’m grateful that Gov. Newsom has prioritized this devastating disease.”


Sign up for the American Society on Aging’s free webinar, “The Messages We Send: Stigma Toward Persons Living With Dementia and How To End It.” May 7, 2019 at 2pm (EST). The webinar is part of a National Alzheimer’s and Dementia Resource Center series, sponsored by the Administration for Community Living.