February 4th, 2014
02:41 PM ET
The National Institutes of Health is partnering with researchers from 10 rival drug companies and several nonprofit organizations to develop new and earlier treatments for diseases including diabetes, Alzheimer's and lupus.
The partnership, announced Tuesday by NIH director Dr. Francis Collins, "could change the way scientific research is conducted."
"This is an unprecedented partnership, bringing the best and brightest scientists from the public and the private sectors together to discover the next generation of drug targets that are going to transform our ability to treat Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and that's just getting started,” Collins said.
The consortium will be known as the Accelerating Medicines Partnership. It will focus at first on three disease groups: Alzheimer's, diabetes and autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
December 31st, 2013
04:00 PM ET
There is no cure for Alzheimer's, nor is there an effective method of reversing symptoms such as memory loss, disorientation and difficulties in organizing thoughts. But a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests there may be some hope for improvement in these patients, in the form of vitamin E.
The study authors say that this is the first demonstration of vitamin E benefiting Alzheimer's patients with mild to moderate disease. However, they caution that it doesn't prove that the vitamin is always effective and therefore should not be universally recommended.
“This is a well done study by a solid research group," said Maria Carrillo, vice president of Medical and Scientific Relations at the Alzheimer’s Association, in a statement. "The results are positive enough to warrant more research to replicate and confirm these findings, but should not change current medical practice. No one should take vitamin E for Alzheimer’s except under the supervision of a physician."
August 19th, 2013
03:54 PM ET
Copper, which is found in anything from drinking water to red meats, may be an environmental trigger of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study.
The study, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests copper keeps toxic proteins from leaving the brain.
It is clear that, over time, copper impairs the systems through which amyloid beta is removed from the brain, said Rashid Deane, a research professor in the University of Rochester Medical Center Department of Neurosurgery, member of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine, and lead author of the study. This causes the protein "to accumulate in the brain and form the plaques that are the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease." FULL POST
March 26th, 2013
10:04 AM ET
The virus causing your cold sore may put you at risk for something more insidious: Lower cognitive abilities.
In a study of 1,625 people, researchers at Columbia University measured specific antibodies to common infectious agents in each person's blood, and using this information, created an "infectious burden index." Participants higher on the infectious burden index were more likely to have worse cognition, or cognitive abilities.
The study, published Monday in the journal Neurology, further suggests a link between cognitive decline and herpesviridae viral infections in particular, which previous studies have also linked to Alzheimer's disease and risk of stroke, an accompanying editorial notes. Herpesviridae is a family of viruses including HSV-1 or herpes simplex virus-1, which causes cold sores and can cause genital herpes, and HSV-2, which commonly causes genital herpes.
January 7th, 2013
07:17 PM ET
If you take drugs to lower your blood pressure, your medication may also lower your risk of dementia, according to a new study released Monday by the American Academy of Neurology.
According to the study, people taking beta blockers, a class of drugs used to treat a number of conditions including high blood pressure, glaucoma and migraines, were less likely to have less cognitive impairment than those that did not. Beta blockers cause the heart to beat slower and with less force, which reduces blood pressure. They also open up blood vessels to increase blood flow.
November 28th, 2012
05:00 PM ET
That cigarette may be doing more damage than meets the eye. If you’ve been smoking for an extended period of time, you’re likely familiar with at least some – if not all – of the bodily symptoms associated with smoking, including but certainly not limited to: Cravings, coughing, shortness of breath and changes to teeth, hair and skin. Coronary heart disease and/or lung cancer might not be far behind.
But a new study published in the journal Age & Ageing concludes that smoking can damage your mind, too. A consistent association was observed between smoking and lower cognitive functioning, including memory.
The bottom line: Smoking and long-term high blood pressure appear to increase the risk of cognitive decline. FULL POST
October 24th, 2012
06:01 PM ET
A decade ago, researchers shocked women around the world when they abruptly halted a landmark clinical trial on hormone therapy, a drug regimen widely used to relieve hot flashes, night sweats, and other unpleasant symptoms of menopause.
Just five years in, the study results suggested that hormone therapy increased the risk of several serious health conditions, including breast cancer, heart disease, and stroke. A follow-up study soon added Alzheimer's disease to the list, after finding that women taking hormones had higher rates of dementia than women taking placebo.
Since then, however, doctors have begun to reexamine hormone therapy and the conclusions of the trial, known as the Women's Health Initiative. In the latest such study, published today in the journal Neurology, researchers report that taking hormones may actually lower, not raise, the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
October 23rd, 2012
04:11 PM ET
One of the sad realities about Alzheimer's disease is that there's no way of preventing it – at least not yet. We know some people are genetically or biologically at greater risk than others, but researchers want to find out how we can fight it off, or at least delay it.
The strongest evidence for a lifestyle choice associated with Alzheimer's prevention is exercise. A new study in the journal Neurology supports that, and also suggests that working out is more effective at protecting the brain than cognitive challenges such as games and puzzles.
Researchers studied a group of nearly 700 participants from Scotland, all born in 1936, who reported their leisure and physical activity levels at age 70. They rated physical activity on a scale from "moving only in connection with necessary (household) chores" to "keep-fit/heavy exercise or competitive sport several times per week," the study said. Participants also rated how often they engaged in various social and intellectual activities.
October 17th, 2012
09:32 AM ET
Everyone has had one of those days where a night of choppy or short sleep leads into a morning of mental haze. New research presented at the Neuroscience 2012 conference suggests that sleep deprivation might be worse for you than you think.
For starters, sleepiness in the elderly could be an indication of Alzheimer's risk, says Andrew Ward, researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Ward and colleagues did a study involving 84 elderly adults without memory problems, ranging from age 66 to 87. Researchers gave them a questionnaire about how likely they were to fall asleep during various daily activities, as a way to measure sleepiness. They also measured brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
July 17th, 2012
03:38 PM ET
Finding drugs that can halt or reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s disease is one of the holy grails in pharmaceutical research.
While the already-approved Aricept and Namenda medications have shown promise for temporarily easing symptoms, what’s desperately needed are treatments that will reverse or prevent the brain decline produced by Alzheimer’s.
Researchers are seeing promising results of the first long-term clinical trial that measured stabilization of Alzheimer’s symptoms, including thinking, memory, daily functioning and mood. The early stage results were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, this week.
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