Dementia in the News

Could concussions speed up the mental decline of people already at risk for Alzheimer's disease?

In a new study, researchers examined 160 U.S. veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The investigators found that concussions seem to accelerate Alzheimer's disease-related brain deterioration and mental decline in people who are at genetic risk for the disease. However, the study did not prove that concussions cause Alzheimer's risk to rise.

Faye Miles, a vibrant woman who loved gardening, said she was going to run a quick errand, hopped in her truck, and headed toward the farmstand five minutes from her Wareham home.

Then, the 68-year-old retired teacher vanished. Hours later, in the middle of the night, police officers found Miles sitting in her truck, which had run out of gas on Interstate 495, miles from her home. She had no memory of what happened.

No use soft-pedaling a hard truth: The year ended on a downer.

For some with impending Alzheimer’s, a crowded room begins to feel just as lonely as an empty one. Could this perceived social isolation be an early warning sign of plaque build-up in the brain? According to a paper in the December JAMA Psychiatry, perhaps so. Scientists led by Reisa Sperling, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, report that cognitively normal people with amyloid in their brains are 7.5 times more likely to report feeling lonely.

Tests that measure the sense of smell may soon become common in neurologists' offices. Scientists have been finding increasing evidence that the sense of smell declines sharply in the early stages of Alzheimer's, and now a new study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania published today in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease confirms that administering a simple "sniff test" can enhance the accuracy of diagnosing this dreaded disease.

MIT technology using LED lights has been licensed to a biotech startup that’s trying to develop a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, which affects an estimated 47 million people worldwide.

Cognito Therapeutics Inc., based jointly in Cambridge and San Francisco, said Wednesday that it has secured a license to intellectual property stemming from the scientific discoveries of Li-Huei Tsai and Ed Boyden, professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s department of brain and cognitive sciences.

In an old factory building with breathtaking views of Boston Harbor and the Charlestown Navy Yard, a group of
more than 20 researchers spend their Thursday afternoon looking at brain scans and discussing their findings of the week.  This doesn’t look like your stereotypical image of research in a lab. There are no white coats, beakers and mice. This is what is known as a dry lab.

he defective proteins that are widely thought to kill brain neurons and cause, or at least indicate, Alzheimer’s disease do not always have that calamitous result, scientists reported on Monday, raising more doubts about conventional approaches to diagnosing and finding treatments for Alzheimer’s.

A novel approach to analyzing brain structure that focuses on the shape, rather than the size, of particular features may allow identification of individuals who are in the early, pre-symptomatic stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

A team of Harvard Medical School investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital used advanced computational tools to analyze data from standard MRI scans.

A recent report doesn’t bode well for the population of aging Latinos in the United States.

According to “Latinos and Alzheimer’s Disease: New Numbers Behind the Crisis,” which was released last week, as many as 3.5 million Latinos are expected to develop Alzheimer’s disease by 2060 – an 832 percent increase.

Barring discovery of a cure or significant treatment, the number of Latinos in the U.S. living with Alzheimer’s will grow from 379,000 in 2012 to one million by 2030.

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