Dementia in the News

If you have a loved one with dementia, my first suggestion would be to find the very best doctors possible. My second piece of advice would be to go to the Alzheimer’s Reading Room. It’s a free blog that focuses on Alzheimer’s disease and the art of Alzheimer’s caregiving.

When I was a kid, if you asked me; "What do you want to be when you grow up?” I would always reply; “I want to be a lawyer!” But when I started high school, I fell in love with biology and chemistry.

I found it so interesting to study how human bodies work and I became passionate about understanding human diseases, their causes, and how to defeat them.

A pilot study led by Ipsit Vahia, a member of the HMS faculty of psychiatry and medical director of Geriatric Psychiatry Outpatient Services at McLean Hospital, suggests that the use of tablet computers is both a safe and potentially effective approach to managing agitation among patients with dementia. The findings were published in the online version of The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

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.

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