March 07, 2017

Today’s Top Alzheimer’s News


A March 6, 2017 Huffington Post piece by Jason Resendez, Executive Director of the LatinosAgainstAlzheimer's Network, highlighted two powerful dementia focused media projects out this year. He called for more portrayals of dementia and caregiving in the thousands of films and television shows produced annually in the US, utilizing storytelling to break down stigma. According to Resendez, "Storytelling has the power to chip away at the stigma that often stands in the way of a diagnosis, treatment, care and a sense of community for these families."

A March 6, 2017 Pharmacy Choice article (by a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Clinical Trials Week) reported on the recent setbacks to finding an innovative Alzheimer’s therapy by 2020, with Merck halting their Phase II/III study on verubecestat, in addition to Eli Lilly’s negative Phase III trial on solanezumab. "The spirited work of Merck and other drug companies that are concentrating vast resources into a cure for Alzheimer's is not underappreciated. Each outcome, while assuredly disheartening, builds our knowledge and leads us closer to a solution for the millions of people with Alzheimer's or related dementias," said George Vradenburg, UsAgainstAlzheimer's Co-Founder and Chairman. "Just as we have before, we will keep working incessantly, passionately and strategically so that the next round in this fight goes to us."



A March 7, 2017 Yahoo! News article (from PRNewswire-USNewswire) highlighted a new report (2017 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures) from the Alzheimer’s Association, showing the growing cost and impact of Alzheimer’s disease on America. It takes an in-depth look at the latest national statistics and information on Alzheimer's prevalence, incidence, use and costs of care, caregiving and mortality. According to the report, total payments toward caring for people with AD or other dementias exceeded a quarter of a trillion dollars ($259 billion). Regarding the physical and mental health impact on the more than 15 million US caregivers, "This report details the physical and mental damage many people experience when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. It also reveals how this burden disproportionately affects women, who tend to spend more time caregiving, take on more caregiving tasks and care for individuals with more cognitive, functional and behavioral problems,” according to Beth Kallmyer, MSW, Vice President of Constituent Services, Alzheimer's Association. The report highlights the urgent need to support research for better treatment options and ultimately, a cure.

A March 6, 2017 Mercury News article reported on the controversial use of stem cells to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Jack Sage, 82 and with an AD diagnosis for four years, has had stem cells injected directly into his brain for two years by Dr. Christopher Duma. Sage is the first patient in this Phase I clinical trial, having his own liposuctioned cells injected directly into his brain. The treatment seems to have positive effects for him, although others are more skeptical. Leigh Turner, University of Minnesota bioethicist, termed it “quackery and flimflam,” as it is being conducted outside the approval process of the Food and Drug Administration. “You don’t just start dumping things into people’s brains,” said Turner.

A March 1, 2017 New York Times article reported that for some people with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease, frequent, brisk walks may help to bolster physical abilities and slow memory loss. However, it is not known whether it might change the disease trajectory for people who already have AD. A new study, published in February in PLoS One, by researchers at the University of Kansas, recruited about 70 participants with AD. Group one did a walking program to raise their physical fitness and group two (the control group), did stretching and toning classes. After six months, some of the walkers were thinking and remembering much better and also generally showed slight increases in the size of their brain’s hippocampus, which is affected early in the course of AD. “It seems likely that the right exercise programs could be disease modifying. We just don’t know yet what the ideal exercise programs are,” says Jill Morris, the study’s lead and Senior Scientist, University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Center.


Watch this recent TEDx talk, Curing Alzheimer's with Science and Song, by Dr. Rudy Tanzi, Professor of Neurology, Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital. He was named one of the TIME100 Most Influential People in the World in 2015 for his groundbreaking research on Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Tanzi is joined by chart-topping recording artist and actor, Chris Mann, for a performance of their anthem of hope, “Remember Me.”


A March 5, 2017 The 74 article interviewed John King, President and CEO of The Education Trust, a nonprofit advocacy group that promotes equity in education for low-income and minority students. King served as President Obama’s Education Secretary since October of 2015. He credits his personal education challenges for informing his perspective as a future education leader, including his formative years in New York City public schools, when his mother passed away and he lived with his father, who had undiagnosed Alzheimer’s disease. He maintains a strong belief in the power of education to create hope in students’ lives, and the urgent importance in strengthening public schools.