Dementia in the News

For the first time, and to the astonishment of many of their colleagues, researchers created what they call Alzheimer’s in a Dish — a petri dish with human brain cells that develop the telltale structures of Alzheimer’s disease. In doing so, they resolved a longstanding problem of how to study Alzheimer’s and search for drugs to treat it; the best they had until now were mice that developed an imperfect form of the disease.

For consummate physician-researchers, what better way to mark an auspicious anniversary than with a scientific meeting? So it was that some 250 researchers gathered at Massachusetts General Hospital on September 19 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center in the first batch of what was to become a nationwide system of federally funded ADRCs. The crowd comprised the instigators of the centers system, former trainees-turned-research-leaders, as well as current faculty, residents, and students from the United States and abroad.

The National Institutes of Health announced today its first wave of investments totaling $46 million in fiscal year 14 funds to support the goals of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative. More than 100 investigators in 15 states and several countries will work to develop new tools and technologies to understand neural circuit function and capture a dynamic view of the brain in action.

Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, remains one of the biggest global public health challenges facing our generation. The number of people living with dementia worldwide today is estimated at 44 million, set to almost double by 2030 and more than triple by 2050. The global cost of dementia was estimated in 2010 at US $604 billion, and this is only set to rise.

America’s older population is experiencing unprecedented growth, but the country is not prepared to meet the housing needs of this aging group, concludes a new report released today by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies and the AARP Foundation. According to “Housing America’s Older Adults - Meeting the Needs of an Aging Population,” the number of people in the United States aged 50 and over is expected to grow to 133 million by 2030, an increase of more than 70 percent since 2000 (click to view interactive map).

We're not yet past Labor Day, but it's already time to start thinking about traveling for the year-end holidays. If you've done it before, you can envision the hassle of getting there when it may seem as though half the world is going too, never mind the expense. If you're traveling with someone who suffers from memory loss, there's an even greater price to pay. Can such a trip be undertaken? And if it can, should it?

About 5 million people in the U.S. suffer from Alzheimer's, half a million of them in California, two-thirds of them women, according to the Alzheimer's Assn.

If you’re on the older side and find yourself popping hideously awake in the middle of the night or far-too-early morn, here’s your line for the next time it happens: “Oh, that darned ventrolateral preoptic nucleus of mine! How I miss my old galanin!”

In 2009, award-winning journalist Greg O’Brien was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s; he was just 59 years old. It’s the kind of news that no one is prepared for, and yet O’Brien, who had watched both his maternal grandfather and mother succumb to the disease, was perhaps more prepared than most.

Fleetwood Mac’s hit song, “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow,” got a second life as the anthem for then-candidate Bill Clinton’s first campaign for President. A new report in JAMA Neurology may trigger the return of that earworm. The report offers yet another reminder that tomorrow may not be better if you have uncontrolled high blood pressure.

A simple eye test could soon reveal whether you have Alzheimer’s Disease – or even if the disease looms in your future. In fact, according to trial results released this week, the vision test detected signs of Alzheimer’s 15 to 20 years before the appearance of clinical signs.

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