April 28, 2017

Today’s Top Alzheimer’s News


An April 27, 2017 Huffington Post article pulls from a special brain health initiative curated by Dr. Ali Rezai, Director, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Stanley D. and Joan H. Ross Center for Brain Health and Performance. Rezai explores the possibility of stopping Alzheimer’s disease through collaboration, and understanding how our body and brain work together. He posits we must first understand what brain health is, and secondly, how we propose to study it.

An April 27, 2017 AlzForum post focused on tau-based approaches to treating Alzheimer’s disease. Imaging studies confirm that the progression of tau neurofibrillary tangles through the brain correlates with cognitive decline even at pre-dementia stages. Growing evidence that tau travels from cell to cell has turned researchers’ attention toward halting its march with antibodies.

An April 4, 2017 Dana Foundation article shared an Open Letter to Congress by Guy McKhann, MD, from its print publication's “Brain in the News” column. McKhann highlighted Trup’s proposed budget cuts to the NIH. The very people voting on the cuts are likely themselves to be affected by the appearance of neurodegenerative diseases. The average age of Congress members is approximately 57 in the House, and 63 in the Senate. As people approach 80, there is at least a 20% chance of developing a dementing illness, particularly Alzheimer’s disease, and at 85, close to 40%.


An April 20, 2017 Inc. article spotlighted Harvard graduate, Russ Graney, who created Aidin, a company that offers a web-based application which optimizes the process of choosing continuing care providers, and empowers consumers to make informed decisions about their health and that of their family. He was inspired by a family member who passed away from early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Aidin is in place at more than 40 hospitals in the US. According to Graney, “Together we are proving that health care reform can be simple: give people the right information and reward them for using it to make smart health care choices. As we make Aidin available more widely, hospitals across the country will yield savings of over $2 billion a year.”


According to an April 20, 2017 Science Daily article, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found a way to measure tau levels in the blood. Damaging tau tangles are found in the brains of people with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. Such a test, likely years away, could be used to quickly screen for tau-based diseases, monitor disease progression and measure the effectiveness of treatments designed to target tau. According to David Holtzman, MD, “We have no test that accurately reflects the status of tau in the brain that is quick and easy for patients. There are brain scans to measure tau tangles, but they are not approved for use with patients yet. Tau levels can be measured in the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, but in order to get to that fluid, you have to do a spinal tap, which is invasive."