March 13, 2018

Today’s Top Alzheimer’s News


A March 12, 2018 Time article and video focused on the theory that daytime sleepiness may influence Alzheimer’s disease risk. Prashanthi Vemuri and colleagues at the Mayo Clinic utilized participants of a Mayo Clinic Study of Aging and found that people who reported excessive daytime sleepiness were more likely to show increases in amyloid as the study progressed. According to the article, “…It still does not provide a definitive answer about whether sleep disruptions contribute to amyloid buildup or whether sleep problems emerge as amyloid starts to pile up.” Also covered by Medical News TodayCBS PhillyWebMD and others.

A March 12, 2018 Financial Times article by Dementia UK Board member Barbara Judge references her experience with her mom’s Alzheimer’s disease, which runs in her family. According to Judge, “…It struck me that people did not seem to be talking about Alzheimer’s and dementia, or raising money for it at high-profile events, in the same way as they had in the past in connection with HIV/Aids… All of a sudden HIV/Aids became a fashionable cause and there were many well-attended events to raise money. Today, there is such good medication for this terrible disease that sufferers can live a long and healthy life. I wonder why the same is not true for dementia.”


A March 11, 2018 The Wall Street Journal article (subscription required) looked at responses to the FDA’s newly drafted guidelines on the review process for Alzheimer’s disease drugs. Some say the FDA is lowering its standards, or that expensive treatments would have only modest improvements in some patients. However, figures show that an AD drug that could delay onset for five years would save Medicare nearly $350 billion over 10 years. According to the article, “One of the most consequential results of the Trump Administration could be a drug-approval process that may be ready to act quickly and competently when a breakthrough for Alzheimer’s arrives.”


According to a March 5, 2018 Being Patient article, a new study found that a special retinal camera reveals that small blood vessels reflected in the eyes could be a roadmap to the brain. People whose eyes showed small changes at age 60 may be more likely to develop cognitive issues by age 80. This doesn’t mean that the blood vessel damage is the cause of cognitive decline. “Because the blood vessels in the eye and the brain are so similar anatomically, we hypothesized that looking at the blood vessels in the eye would help us understand what was happening in the brain,” said study author Jennifer A. Deal, PhD of Johns Hopkins University. 


A March 5, 2018 article spotlighted a study testing elenbecestat, a drug to delay or prevent Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia by halting the growth of beta-amyloid or clearing it away. The Phase 3 trial is recruiting people between 50 and 85 in New Jersey who have concerns about memory loss, including those with a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment or early AD. According to principal investigator Dr. Michelle Papka of the Cognitive and Research Center of New Jersey, “Among the Alzheimer's research community, there's definitely a feeling of urgency, that we've got to get this done. We don't want something in 10 or 20 years; I would hope it's sooner than that. Even if we came up with something that could delay things a little bit, that would be huge."


A March 8, 2018 Portage Daily Register article reported that former Wisconsin Governor Martin J. Schreiber will talk about his experiences as an Alzheimer’s caregiver to Elaine, his wife of 60+ years. Schreiber shares lessons in caregiving from his award-winning book, “My Two Elaines: Learning, Coping, and Surviving as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver.” “If Alzheimer’s is bad, ignorance of the disease is worse,” he said. 


Typical Day” is a photography project where older adults living with mild cognitive impairment document their own lives. Using cameras provided by the Penn Memory Center, the photos serve as a tool to facilitate conversations with researchers.