November 21, 2017

Today’s Top Alzheimer’s News


A November 20, 2017 CBS News article looked at BrainHQ, a brain-training program utilized in a 10-year clinical trial funded by the National Institutes of Health, to see if seniors were less likely to develop dementia down the road. The study found that the speed-of-thought-processing program lowered dementia risk by nearly 30 percent. According to study author Jerri Edwards, "It is important to understand that this intervention is not a game, that it's not just doing something on the computer. It's a very specific training program that shows these benefits."

In a November 20, 2017 Huffington Post article, Sarah Elizabeth Richards used the 23andMe consumer genetic health and ancestry home test to see if she had one of the genetic markers which increases her chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease, as her great-grandmother had. 23andMe is just one in an ever-expanding field of consumer genetic testing products. Experts worry that consumers might be psychologically unprepared to handle whatever health information is revealed, especially for diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s with no cure.  

According to a November 17, 2017 STAT News opinion piece by Howard Fillit of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, it’s time to invest in more diverse Alzheimer’s disease drug targets. An effective treatment will likely involve taking several drugs that target more than one cause, including neuroinflammation, genetics and epigenetics, neuroprotection, and metabolic and mitochondrial dysfunction. A diverse pipeline of drug targets beyond beta amyloid needs to be pursued. 


A November 20, 2017 Medical Xpress article spotlighted a new study from the Boston University School of Medicine which shows that the clumping and accumulation of tau, a major hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, occurs as a normal response to stress. This in turn produces "stress granules," the accumulation of clumped tau, and nerve cell injury which produces dementia. Decreasing TIA1, a protein required for stress granule formation, improved nerve cell health, and memory and life expectancy in an experimental AD model. According to Benjamin Wolozin, MD, PhD, "This ability of TIA1 reduction to provide protection opens up a new chapter in our understanding of the biology of Alzheimer's disease and also suggests new avenues for pharmacotherapy for this disease and other tauopathies.”


A November 20, 2017 The Hill blog post by Rani Snyder of The John A. Hartford Foundation spotlighted a bipartisan group of lawmakers who recently shared their caregiving stories at a panel discussion hosted by the Gerontological Society of America. The goal was to raise awareness of the plight of family caregivers and discuss policy solutions to better support them. 8.5 million caregivers in the US provide care to an older adult with “high needs,” either dementia or with two or more self-care needs.