March 24, 2016

Today's Top News


A March 23, 2016 San Francisco Business Times article reported that “the University of California, San Francisco, is teaming up with a global foundation to build out a registry of current and potential Alzheimer's patients from which the right people can be quickly assigned to the right drug studies.” According to the article, “Using a free website where people play games to determine the level of their cognitive skills, sign consent forms and build a profile, the registry over its first two years has signed up 36,000 people. Their names and information are held in a database, ready to be matched with the right clinical trials. Those efforts are ramping up with the Brain Health Registry in January signing a partnership with the Global Alzheimer's Platform Foundation to bring another 40,000 people into the registry by the third quarter.”


A March 23, 2016 The Atlantic opinion piece by Anne-Marie Slaughter argued that the “The labor of caregivers—often invisible and undervalued—is crucial for economic growth and gender equality.” According to Slaughter, “The UN Women’s “Progress of the World’s Women Report” acknowledges, “Domestic work makes all other work possible”—and this is true regardless of whether that work comes from domestic workers or unpaid family caregivers. The labor of domestic workers is critical to the function and growth of national and global economies. These workers, however, remain socially and economically invisible. For example, roughly one in nine people aged 65 and older are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and one in three seniors dies from Alzheimer’s or suffering from other forms of dementia. In 2014 alone, Americans provided nearly 18 billion hours of unpaid care to family members stricken with the disease; that cost has been estimated at $218 billion—nearly half the net value of Walmart’s 2013 sales.”

A March 23, 2016 Bangor Daily News article highlighted Senator Susan Collins’ commitment to Alzheimer’s research and caregiver support. According to the article, “‘This is nearly a 60 percent increase in funds for Alzheimer’s research,’ Collins told the group, which also included doctors, clinicians and others from Acadia. ‘While this is still less than the $2 billion the experts say is needed to prevent or effectively treat Alzheimer’s by 2025, it’s really a breakthrough.’Collins has recently sponsored a bill to also offer support to caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients. ‘I think that is an important part of the puzzle, as important as the research,’ the senator said.”

A March 23, 2016 Nova Next article reported on a virus that could cure Alzheimer’s. According to the article, “Fisher set out to repeat Beka Solomon’s mouse experiments and found that with some difficulty he was able to show the M13 phage dissolved amyloid-beta plaques when the phage was delivered through the rodents’ nasal passages. Over the next two years, Fisher and his colleagues then discovered something totally unexpected: that the humble M13 virus could also dissolve other amyloid aggregates—the tau tangles found in Alzheimer’s and also the amyloid plaques associated with other diseases, including alpha-synuclein (Parkinson’s), huntingtin (Huntington’s disease), and superoxide dismutase (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). The phage even worked against the amyloids in prion diseases (a class that includes Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease). Fisher and his colleagues demonstrated this first in test tubes and then in a series of animal experiments. Astonishingly, the simple M13 virus appeared in principle to possess the properties of a “pan therapy,” a universal elixir of the kind the chemist Chris Dobson had imagined.”


Reuters: Burning calories tied to higher brain volume for elderly

The Washington Post: Philanthropist Paul Allen announces $100 million gift to expand ‘frontiers of bioscience’