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A February 19, 2016 CBS News article reported that “University of Southern California researchers said that the locus coeruleus -- a little blue area of the brain stem -- releases a chemical called norepinephrine that helps regulate heart rate, attention, memory, and cognition.” According to the article, “ It may also help prevent Alzheimer's symptoms by protecting brain cells, called neurons, from factors such as inflammation that may hasten the onset of dementia. They looked at mostly animal studies for their paper, published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences…Mather said it's also the first brain region where tau pathology shows up, the protein that can lead to tangles in the brain, a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.”

A February 19, 2016 EurekAlert announced “For the first time, researchers have succeeded in passing an antibody through the blood-brain barrier to act as a tracer for PET imaging of the brain.” According to the article, “This resulted in more precise information being obtained than with regular radioactive tracers. The study provides hope for more effective diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer's disease and improvements in monitoring the effects of medication.”

A February 18, 2016 Huffington Post opinion piece by Dr. Darrell Kirch called medical research the “best investment we can make in our future.” According to Dr. Kirch, “Recent momentum, however, has turned in favor of medical research. Congress's budget increase for NIH last fall and the president's recent budget proposal show clear bipartisan support for medical research. This support could not have come at a better time. As a nation, we spend nearly 100 times more on treating diseases than on curing them. If researchers could delay the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease by five years, we would save $50 billion a year in health costs. By investing in NIH, we will see returns many times over in better health and quality of life across the United States. Medical research also drives innovation, boosts the U.S. economy, and supports U.S. global leadership in science and technology…Congress and the Obama administration have demonstrated their willingness to increase funding in a way that makes a real difference. They can continue the current momentum by providing relief from sequestration and increasing the spending caps so that Congress can allot more funding to NIH. Let us make these increases sustainable and predictable, so that support for medical research keeps pace with inflation, ensures progress, brings hope to millions today, and creates a healthier future for generations to come.” Darrell G. Kirch, M.D. is President and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC.)

A February 18, 2016 AARP Take Care blog post by caregiver Amy Goyer highlighted the heavy toll Alzheimer’s caregiving takes on caregivers and families. According to Goyer, “All types of family caregiving can require an incredible amount of physical and emotional energy, not to mention financial and personal sacrifice. But I have been a caregiver in several situations, and I can attest that caring for my grandmother, who had Alzheimer’s, and now for my dad (who also suffers from the disease) is different. The level of emotional and mental drain and physical exhaustion is difficult to put into words. Alzheimer’s caregiving is extreme — it’s caregiving on steroids.”

 

INTERESTING READS FROM THE WEB

WPR.org: Assembly Approves Bills Targeting Alzheimer's, Dementia

WBUR.org: The Upside Of Alzheimer’s?

STAT News: Seeking an edge, these brain hackers mix up risky chemical cocktails for breakfast 

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