When Alzheimer's disease actually starts is often not clear, but it now appears that it may be preceded by rapid cognitive decline for up to six years before it becomes evident, a new study suggests.
This accelerated deterioration in memory and other mental function is not seen in people who do not develop Alzheimer's disease, the researchers said.
"Alzheimer's disease has a much longer course and affects substantially more people than generally recognized," said lead researcher Robert S. Wilson, a senior neuropsychologist at the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center in Chicago.
The brain is a black box. A complex circuitry of neurons fires information through channels, much like the inner workings of a computer chip. But while computer processors are regimented with the deft economy of an assembly line, neural circuits are impenetrable masses. Think tumbleweed.
Researchers in the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School have developed a technique for unraveling these masses. Through a combination of microscopy platforms, researchers can crawl through the individual connections composing a neural network, much as Google crawls web links.
William Gonzalez's world collapsed when his wife of more than 50 years was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease four years ago. The 78-year-old Cuban immigrant knew little about the scourge that was gradually robbing his wife of a lifetime of memories.
Today, the Air Force veteran struggles to run his home in Davie, Fla., while serving as sole caretaker for his 74-year-old wife Aida.
Scientists in the United States have managed to turn human embryonic stem cells into a type of brain cell linked to memory loss in Alzheimer's disease. The research, published in the journal Stem Cells, should help in the development and testing of potential new medicines to treat the neurodegenerative disease which affects around half a million people in the UK.
People with an immediate family history of Alzheimer's disease are four to 10 times as likely to contract the condition. A new study now suggests the chances of getting Alzheimer's are higher if your mother had it than if your father had it.
Jeffrey Burns, the director of the University of Kansas Medical Center's Alzheimer's and Memory Program, said the findings don't mean that children of mothers with Alzheimer's disease will develop the condition. "It's not clear on an individual basis how much this risk applies," he said.
The 25th anniversary presentation of the MetLife Foundation Awards for Medical Research in Alzheimer's Disease (AD) was held today honoring two noted researchers, Randy L. Buckner, PhD, Professor of Psychology and of Neuroscience at Harvard University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, and Marcus E. Raichle, MD, Professor of Radiology and Neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Both have been pioneers in the area of brain imaging leading to inroads in the study of Alzheimer's.
A new survey by MetLife Foundation finds that Alzheimer's disease is the second most feared disease among American adults, behind only cancer. When asked which of five major diseases they are most afraid, 31% said Alzheimer's, while 41% said cancer. Heart disease and stroke were named by 8% each, while only 6% said they fear diabetes most.
Their mission was to solve a small but nagging mystery of Alzheimer's disease: How would the brain's ability to store information be affected if they "turned off" the obscure protein LRP1?
But Guojun Bu and his fellow researchers were in for a surprise. As they expected, mice whose brains had been wiped of the LRP1 gene showed Alzheimer's-like memory problems. But they also started to put on weight - fast.
The mice were lethargic. They were on their way to becoming diabetic. And they didn't seem to know when to stop eating.
Scientists at the Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute say they have identified the root molecular cause of a variety of ills brought on by advanced age, including waning energy, failure of the heart and other organs, and metabolic disorders such as diabetes.