August 06, 2014

Today's Top Alzheimer's News

Smartphone based biosensors for diseases like Alzheimer's, Yale researchers reverse the effects of Alzheimer's in mice, and the need for more inclusive FDA clinical trials (read more).  

Must reads

  • An August 6, 2014 Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News article reported on the development of smartphone based biosensors that have the potential to help diagnose diseases like Alzheimer's. According to the article, "Over the past couple of years, smartphone-based devices have been introduced by various developers. Invariably, the developers declare that the smartphone is the ultimate mDiagnosis platform. After all, they say, the smartphone is already ubiquitous. Moreover, it has computational capacity to spare, as well as a built-in camera. Finally, as a GPS-enabled communications device, a smartphone platform could readily integrate point-of-care diagnostics with public-health projects, such as mapping the spread of an infectious disease…To operate this lab-on-a-chip system, users place a drop of blood from a finger prick on a disposable plastic polymer cartridge and insert it into the handheld biosensor. The blood travels through the cartridge in tiny channels 500 microns wide to a detection site where it reacts with preloaded reagents, enabling the fluorescence sensor to detect certain biomarkers of disease. The first cartridges focus on the detection of C-reactive proteins in the blood, markers of cardiovascular and peripheral vascular diseases. Additional cartridges can be engineered to detect biomarkers of other diseases, including the beta amyloid protein that can be used as a predictor of Alzheimer’s disease."
  • An August 6, 2014 Portland Press Herald article reported that Yale University researchers "were able to reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s on learning and memory, the school announced Tuesday." According to the article, "Yale School of Medicine psychiatry professor Paul Lombroso and others studied thousands of molecules, which could become drugs, in search of one or more that would inhibit the negative effects on the brain of a specific type of protein. In this latest study, scientists are showing for the first time that inhibiting the negative effects of a specific protein can reverse memory and learning deficits associated with Alzheimer’s in mice.Yale researchers are duplicating the research to see if they get the same results with rats and non-human primates. The hope is that they will one day come up with a drug that could be used to help treat people with Alzheimer’s disease."
  • An August 5, 2014 RH Reality Check opinion piece by Cindy Pearson and Susan Wood advocated for a more inclusive FDA clinical trials. According to the authors, "All too often, we do not know how drugs and medical devices affect women and people of color. How can we not know the effect of medications and medical devices on women? Because, until now, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only recommended, not required, pharmaceutical companies to look at women separately from men. We have more studies on women’s health conditions, and we have more women and people of color in studies, but we don’t have nearly enough information on how women fare, compared to men; nor do we know enough about how people of color fare…Two-thirds of people with Alzheimer’s disease are women, but most studies of Alzheimer’s disease have not been designed to evaluate differences based on sex or ethnicity. Among participants in four National Institute on Aging–funded Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study trials, only about 6 percent of participants were African American and roughly 4 percent were Hispanic…The FDA has an important opportunity to improve public health by requiring companies to do the right thing. We will continue to push the agency to release a strong action plan, and we ask you to join us in urging the agency to stand strong and ensure that new drugs and devices are only approved when critical data on sex differences are available, so that women and health-care providers can make informed decisions about their health care."
  • An August 5, 2014 San Francisco Gate article reported that "Socioeconomic status, education and exercise may have a greater influence on cognitive skills in later life than race and ethnicity - findings that challenge earlier research suggesting an association between race and an increased risk of dementia, according to studies from UC Davis' Alzheimer's Disease Center."