September 11, 2019

Today's Top Alzheimer's News


A September 10, 2019 NIH Director’s Blog by Dr. Francis Collins focused on the connection between Alzheimer’s disease and TREM2, a protein that helps immune cells clear debris from the brain. Researchers found that higher levels of TREM2 in people with AD correlate with slower loss of cognitive skills. According to the article, “In subsequent studies, [Christian] Haass [Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany] and colleagues showed in mouse models of AD that TREM2 helps to shift microglia into high gear for clearing amyloid plaques. This animal work and that of others helped to strengthen the case that TREM2 may play an important role in AD.”

A September 5, 2019 Nature article spotlighted TRIIM (Thymus Regeneration, Immunorestoration and Insulin Mitigation), a small clinical trial testing whether growth hormone could be used safely in humans to restore tissue in the thymus gland, which is crucial for efficient immune function. Researchers found it might be possible to reverse the body’s epigenetic clock, which measures biological age, with a cocktail of growth hormone and diabetes medication. According to the article, “Regenerating the thymus could be useful in people who have underactive immune systems, including older people, he [Steve Horvath, University of California, Los Angeles] says… This “has huge implications not just for infectious disease but also for cancer and ageing in general,”” said Sam Palmer of Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.


According to a September 10, 2019 Science Daily article, researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine believe that measuring how quickly pupils dilate (bigger for more difficult tasks), while taking a cognitive test may be a low-cost, low-invasive way of screening for Alzheimer’s disease. “Given the evidence linking pupillary responses, LC [locus coeruleus] and tau and the association between pupillary response and AD polygenic risk scores, ...these results are proof-of-concept that measuring pupillary response during cognitive tasks could be another screening tool to detect Alzheimer's before symptom appear,” said first study author William S. Kremen, PhD. Also covered by UC San Diego Health.

A September 10, 2019 AZ Central article looked at deep brain stimulation therapy, which is being tested on people with Alzheimer’s disease at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. In an attempt to slow down neurodegeneration, a surgical implant, acting as the brain’s “pacemaker,” delivers an electrical current to the fornix area of the brain via a neurostimulator. “We are looking at the brain as millions and millions of circuits that are all interconnected. And we're looking to see how we can rewire these circuits in conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, eating disorders like obesity, mood disorders such as depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, Tourette's syndrome,” said Dr. Francisco Ponce.