Dementia in the News

To an Alzheimer's patient, there's nothing funny about forgetting to turn off the oven, losing a telephone number or misplacing books from the library. But turning those mishaps into punch lines might turn out to be therapeutic.

The idea that improvisational comedy might help those in the early to middle stages of Alzheimer's cope with their disease is being tested by the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine and Chicago's Lookingglass Theatre Company.

When is it appropriate to perform genetic testing for Alzheimer disease (AD), and what information do patients need to understand their risk? The June issue of Genetics in Medicine, the official peer-reviewed journal of The American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG) presents a new practice guideline on genetic counseling and testing for AD. The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health.

People in a large area of the American South have long been known to have more strokes and to be more likely to die from them than people living elsewhere in the country.

Now, a large national study suggests the so-called stroke belt may have another troubling health distinction. Researchers have found that Southerners there also are more likely to experience a decline in cognitive ability over several years - specifically, problems with memory and orientation.

Does high blood pressure increase the risk of getting Alzheimer's disease? Although several studies have highlighted hypertension as a potential AD risk factor, getting prominent play in the press, the epidemiologic evidence to date remains surprisingly weak.

A new advance by UCLA biochemists has brought scientists one step closer to developing treatments that could delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease and prevent the sexual transmission of HIV.

The researchers report that they have designed molecular inhibitors that target specific proteins associated with Alzheimer's disease and HIV to prevent them from forming amyloid fibers, the elongated chains of interlocking proteins that play a key role in more than two dozen degenerative and often fatal diseases.

This week, WGBH is taking a look at the impact of Alzheimer's disease on the caregivers of Massachusetts' more than 300,000 Alzheimer's patients. Our five-part series looks at the emotional and physical impact of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's, exploring one family's detailed plan for dealing with the disease, and looks at different strategies for supporting patients with Alzheimer's, like assisted-living and art therapy.

There are new genetic clues on risk factors and biological causes of a rare neurodegenerative disease called progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), according to a new study from an international genetics team led by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. In the largest genetics study of the disease, three new genes associated with risk for PSP were identified and two additional genetic variants affecting risk for PSP were confirmed. The paper appears online in Nature Genetics.

Scientists have designed a brain implant that restored lost memory function and strengthened recall of new information in laboratory rats - a crucial first step in the development of so-called neuroprosthetic devices to repair deficits from dementia, stroke and other brain injuries in humans.

The National Alzheimer's Project Act, Public Law 111-375 (42 U.S.C. 11225), requires that the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) establish the Advisory Council on Alzheimer's Research, Care, and Services. The Advisory Council is governed by provisions of Public Law 92-463 (5 U.S.C. Appendix 2), which sets forth standards for the formation and use of advisory committees.

Oldest-old survivor stories notwithstanding, mild cognitive problems, as wlel as full-blown dementia, are common among women 85 years and older, and their prevalence keeps going up as these women get older, according to a new study. "There was some question in the research community as to whether the incidence of dementia might plateau after a certain age," said Kristine Yaffes, University of California at San Francisco (UCSF).

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