Michael Rafii M.D. Ph.D

Co-Director of the Memory Disorders Clinic at UCSD Perlman Ambulatory Care Center in La Jolla, Assistant Professor of Neurosciences at the University of California, San Diego, and Associate Medical Director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study, Dr. Rafii specializes in cognitive disorders, including dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease. His current research interests include neuroimaging and clinical trials. He received his M.D. and Ph.D. from Brown University and conducted neurogenetics research at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Rafii went on to complete his neurology residency at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and fellowship in Dementia and Cognitive Disorders at the University of California, San Diego.

Jul 282011
 

Plants have a long history as a rich source of new compounds for drug discovery. Cinnamon is widely used by humans, both as a spice and as a traditional medicine. It is, perhaps, one of the oldest herbal medicines, having been mentioned in the Bible and in Chinese texts as long as 4,000 years ago. Previous studies have already demonstrated the potential for herbal extracts to interact with beta-amyloid, and perhaps slow down or even [...]

Jul 152011
 
Recent Developments in Amyloid Imaging

The use of positron emission tomography (PET) imaging to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease (AD) appears to be closer to becoming a clinical tool, based on results from two articles published online in the Archives of Neurology. In one study, Adam S. Fleisher, M.D., from Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix, and colleagues, evaluated PET imaging using the tracer florbetapir F 18. The study population included 68 individuals with probable Alzheimer’s disease, 60 individuals with mild cognitive impairment, [...]

Jun 102011
 
A Potential Blood Test for Alzheimer's Disease

Oxidation and free radical damage are natural occurrences as our bodies are subjected to toxins and stressors from everything we encounter throughout our lifespan. When oxidation occurs, our bodies respond in the best way they know how: they reach for protective resources from within our cells to combat the damage and maintain our health. If these resources are unavailable, inflammation will occur. The processes of oxidation, free radical production and cell damage are thought to [...]

Apr 212011
 
MR Study Shows That Amyloid Deposits Occur Years Before Diagnosis

High-resolution magnetic resonance (MR) imaging studies have identified characteristic changes in brain structure — thinning of key cortical regions and reduced volume of structures such as the hippocampus — in persons with mild cognitive impairment, in individuals known to carry gene mutations that directly cause Alzheimer’s disease, and in diagnosed Alzheimer’s patients. The current study, published in the Annals of Neurology, involved 87 cognitively normal older individuals and 32 patients diagnosed with mild Alzheimer’s (matched [...]

Mar 182011
 
Studies Reveal Very Early Cognitive Declines with Familial Alzheimer's Disease

Last month, researchers Francisco Lopera and colleagues reported in the journal Lancet Neurology that they were able to capture a clear decline in cognition starting in people’s early 30s in the largest-known population with autosomal-dominant (inherited) Alzheimer’s disease. They define an earlier disease stage prior to what is called pre-MCI, in effect pushing the line of detectability back toward younger ages by some four years. Two other papers go in the same direction. Last year [...]

Mar 112011
 
The Liver and Alzheimer's

Readers, Two recent papers* have shed light on the role of the liver in modulating beta-amyloid levels in the brain, and potentially the course of Alzheimer’s disease. First, researchers at the University of California, Irvine discovered that markedly depleted amounts of an omega-3 fatty acid in brain tissue samples from Alzheimer’s patients may be due to the liver’s inability to produce the complex fat. Low levels of docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, have been associated with [...]

Jan 312011
 
Updates in the World of Alzheimer’s Disease Research

Dear Readers, There are two notable updates in this week’s blog. First, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Advisory Committee decided that it could not recommend approval of Amyvid™ (florbetapir) at this time based on the currently available data (13-3); but, voted unanimously (16-0) to recommend approval of Amyvid conditional on specialized training being instituted for the medical professionals who would administer it. They must train readers in a consistent technique, and then re-evaluate [...]

Jan 252011
 
A New Method to Test for Alzheimer's Disease?

Using a new technology that relies on thousands of synthetic molecules to fish for disease-specific antibodies, researchers have developed a potential method for detecting Alzheimer’s disease with a simple blood test. The same methodology might lead to blood tests for many important diseases, according to the report published by Thomas Kodadek’s group at the Scripps Research Institute in the January 7th issue of the journal Cell. The new method relies on the notion that many [...]

Jan 142011
 
The Amyloid Plateau

Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, report in last month’s issue of the journal Brain, on the postmortem examination of the first-ever person with Alzheimer’s to be followed prospectively by positron emission tomography using Pittsburgh Compound B (PIB-PET), which allows visualization of amyloid plaques. They analyzed the brain of a woman with Alzheimer’s who had volunteered for the first PET-PIB scan ever performed. She received an additional PIB scan two years later, and [...]

Jan 052011
 
Alzheimer's Disease: 2010 Year In Review

In this final blog of the year, we would like to review some of the highlights of what has happened in the AD world, and the new directions that we will likely be heading into in 2011. This year Medivation’s Dimebon, which started life as a Russian antihistamine and showed some promise against Alzheimer’s, failed in its first late-stage clinical trial. Later in the year, Eli Lilly halted development of semagacestat after the compound actually [...]

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