Jan 132014
 
A Year in Review

In this first blog of 2014, I would like to review some of the highlights from the world of Alzheimer’s disease research in 2013, as well as the new directions that we will likely be heading in 2014. Advances in Brain Imaging  Advances in brain imaging, specifically amyloid PET scans, have led the way towards earlier identification of Alzheimer’s. Their widespread use in larger studies has made it possible to visualize the presence of beta-amyloid [...]

Sep 252013
 
Is Alzheimer's Really Linked to Poor Dental Health?

British scientists recently reported finding signs of the gum-disease bacterium  (P. gingivalis) in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. The new study is being widely reported as adding to a growing body of evidence linking periodontal (gum) disease to an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. However, such data needs to be considered very carefully. In fact, what the study found was that substances on the surface of the bacterium (lipopolysaccharides) were present in the brain tissue [...]

Aug 152013
 
Can Chocolate Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer’s?

Like most people, I love chocolate and would be thrilled if it could be the next healthy brain food! And in fact, a new study claims chocolate — cocoa specifically — might help improve cognitive functioning. As delicious as these results sound, there are some serious flaws in the methodology. Background This study looked at neurovascular coupling (NVC), which is a term for the close relationship between brain activity and brain cerebral blood flow. As different areas of [...]

Aug 132013
 
 Dietary Saturated Fat & the Risk of Alzheimer's

In a study published online in JAMA Neurology, researchers found that dietary saturated fat reduced the body’s levels of apolipoprotein E, also called ApoE, which helps remove amyloid beta proteins out of the brain. Essentially, people who received a high-saturated-fat, high-sugar diet showed a change in their ApoE, such that the ApoE would be less able to help clear the amyloid. ApoE4 status is associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline and elevated brain amyloid deposition. [...]

Jul 242013
 
Highlights From the World’s Largest Conference for Dementia Research

As a scientist and administrator, and as immediate past chair of the Alzheimer’s Association Medical and Scientific Advisory Council and a current member of the Association’s Board of Directors, I have seen the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC®) grow into the world’s largest and most prestigious conference of its kind. It brings together more than 5,000 researchers from around the world to report and discuss groundbreaking research and information on the cause, diagnosis, treatment and prevention [...]

Jun 042013
 
Results of IGIV for Alzheimer's Study Disappointing But Not Discouraging

The first results from the GAP study of Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IGIV) for Alzheimer’s disease were just announced and are disappointing but not entirely discouraging. The primary results are clear — IGIV did not significantly slow decline of thinking abilities or preserve daily function in a large group of Alzheimer’s patients when compared to an inactive placebo. However, some positive responses were seen in certain subgroups of the participants who received IGIV. The GAP study was [...]

Apr 052013
 
Stress and Alzheimer’s Disease: A Hormonal Connection

Recently, findings were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease that may help explain why people who are susceptible to stress are at more risk of developing Alzheimer’s and why — increasingly — we are finding evidence that physical activity, which reduces stress levels, may reduce the chances of developing Alzheimer’s. It is widely believed that the stress hormone corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) may have a protective effect on the brain, including the memory changes brought on by Alzheimer’s. CRF is associated [...]

Jan 242013
 
Where We Are Today in Alzheimer's Research: A Year in Review

One year closes and another begins. Here are the 2012 Alzheimer’s disease research highlights, as well as new directions that we will likely be heading during 2013. Genetic Insights: Among the important discoveries of 2012 was the identification of a genetic mutation that protects people from developing Alzheimer’s disease. The mutation in Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP) significantly decreases the amount of beta-amyloid a person makes (about 40 percent), conferring a resistance to developing Alzheimer’s. Just to review, all neurons secrete APP, and [...]

Jul 242012
 
The Alzheimer’s Association International Conference: Balancing Hope with Realism

This post originally appeared on the ChicagoNow blog, “Ask Dr. Chill: Practical Answers to the Toughest Caregiving Questions.” It is being reposted here with the author’s permission. Alas, I was not able to attend the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Vancouver this month, but I did follow it closely on the organization’s website. The event attracted over 4,300 scientists, physicians and other professionals in the Alzheimer’s community who gathered to discuss findings from their most recent batches [...]

Jun 112012
 
Why Aren’t You Researching Coconut Oil or [Insert Other Substance Here]?

My recent blog entry “Can Coconut Oil Treat Alzheimer’s?” generated a lot of comments with the same question: “Why isn’t the Alzheimer’s Association researching coconut oil?” It’s an excellent question and one I get often about coconut oil and other substances that have been rumored to help people with Alzheimer’s. At first glance, the answer is simple: we’ve received few, if any proposals specifically studying  coconut oil. However, we have received a little over half a [...]

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