March 09, 2017

Today’s Top Alzheimer’s News


In a March 8, 2017 post, Disruptive Women in Health Care shouts-out to “Disruptive Women to Watch in 2017,” in honor of International Women’s Day 2017. The auspicious list includes Trish Vradenburg, Founding Board Member and Vice-Chair, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s; Meryl Comer, Founding Board Member, UsA2 and President, Geoffrey Beene Foundation Alzheimer’s Initiative; Jill Lesser, President, WomenAgainstAlzheimer’s Network and Board Member, UsA2, alongside some equally impressive women.


A March 8, 2017 St. Louis Post-Dispatch article reported on how the budget debate in Washington affects the St. Louis region. As President Trump pushes for increased defense spending, which includes St. Louis-built Navy jets, watchers caution that the boost may come at the expense of funding medical research at the National Institutes of Health. This is an important regional factor because of major medical research institutions in the area. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. is worried that pressure to cut domestic spending to fund the defense boost could lead to substantial healthcare funding cuts down the road. "If it comes at the expense of some funding like medical research, then we are not really serving the people we represent,” Durbin said. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. cited a study predicting the US could eventually spend twice its current defense budget just to take care of Alzheimer’s patients. Dr. Thomas Grabowski, Jr., Director, Integrated Brain Imaging Center, University of Washington, said that if we can slow the onset and progression of AD by five years through early intervention and precision medicine, “we would cut Alzheimer’s dementia in half,” and with it, cut the costs of treatment in half. 


A March 8, 2017 Seeking Alpha article reported that the pharma industry is turning its sights toward an Alzheimer’s vaccine, in light of the recent failures of AD clinical drug trials. This next frontier of research focuses on starting treatment very early and aims to raise an immune system response against beta-amyloid or tau. Novartis is recruiting into Generation, a phase II/III trial which is part of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative, led by the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute. Participants have to carry two ApoE4 genes.


A March 9, 2017 Daily Nonpareil article tells the story of Sue Willms who cares for her husband, Wally, who has Lewy body dementia. As a nurse, Sue felt she could handle a lot, but caregiving is taking its toll, as it does on many. She cut-back to part time work, recently tore a rotator cuff in one shoulder trying to lift him, and can feel isolated. Fortunately, talking about dementia is not as taboo as it used to be, but caregivers still need emotional support to avoid illness and hospitalization themselves. “I think it’s good to have a break – I know it is – and I think it makes me a better caregiver. To me, it is less expensive to have the caregiver than to have (him in) a facility,” she said. Sue is part of the Hero Project, a support network that substitutes phone conversations for in-person meetings, and on the advisory board for her local Alzheimer’s Association office.


A March 3, 2017 Bay Area Reporter article reported on the creation of a new Alzheimer's and Dementia Care Network and education campaign designed to overcome the unique barriers of aging LGBT individuals. LGBT seniors are less likely to have adult children who can take care of them. "We know that discrimination makes it hard to thrive… My dad died of Alzheimer's, so I know I am at risk personally for this disease," said District 8 Supervisor, Jeff Sheehy. Karyn Skultety, PhD, Executive Director of Openhouse, the LGBT senior agency, says they will work with others to develop a first-of-its-kind training to enhance care for LGBT seniors living with dementia and their care partners or caregivers. "This grant allows us to better address the needs of LGBT seniors and adults with disabilities. We will work very closely with Openhouse and Family Caregiver Alliance," said Angie Pratt of the Alzheimer's Association.