Dementia in the News

Alzheimer's researchers are obsessed with a small, sticky protein fragment, beta amyloid, that clumps into barnaclelike balls in the brains of patients with this degenerative neurological disease.

It is a normal protein. Everyone’s brain makes it. But the problem in Alzheimer’s is that it starts to accumulate into balls - plaques. The first sign the disease is developing - before there are any symptoms - is a buildup of amyloid. And for years, it seemed, the problem in Alzheimer’s was that brain cells were making too much of it.

Having higher HDL, or "good" cholesterol, may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease, new research suggests.

Experts say the new study, which was published Monday in the Archives of Neurology, is further evidence of a link between heart disease and dementia, and if the finding is backed by more research, doctors think it may point to a way that people can reduce their risk of both brain and heart trouble later in life, by boosting HDL.

He did two crossword puzzles a day, sometimes more, working through the list of clues in strict order, as if to remember where he was.

And, perhaps, what he was doing.

Henry Gustav Molaison -  known through most of his life only as H.M., to protect his privacy - became the most studied patient in the history of brain science after 1953, when an experimental brain operation left him, at age 27, unable to form new memories.

Scientists have turned back the clock in mice they engineered to age faster than normal, an advance they suggest is the first time aging in mice has been reversed.

Researchers at Harvard-affiliated medical centers genetically manipulated mice to age faster, and then used gene therapy to lengthen telomeres - compounds found at the ends of strands of DNA - which reversed age-related problems such as decreased brain function and infertility.

Three studies presented Monday at the Radiological Society of North America's annual meeting use imaging techniques to show how exercise can affect our bodies and brains.

Walking may slow cognitive decline in adults diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease, as well as benefiting brains of healthy adults.

They were stooped, hobbled, disoriented, fumbling around the house. They got confused in the bathtub and struggled up stairs that seemed to swim before them.

“Oh, it hurts,” said Noh Hyun-ho, sinking to the ground.

“I thought I was going to die,” said Yook Seo-hyun.

In the basement of Harvard Law School's Hemenway Gymnasium, a battle of ages is being waged.

A drug used decades ago to treat high blood pressure has been shown to improve learning and memory in mouse models of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study by researchers at the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health. The study found that the drug, diazoxide, acted on nerve cells in the mouse brain in ways that slowed the development of the neurodegenerative disorder. The findings appear in the Nov 15 2010 print edition of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Bruce Vincent works his way up and down the aisles of the grocery store he has owned for two decades, methodically unpacking crates of food, stocking shelves, and breaking down the empty cartons.

Midway down aisle 2, Vincent hesitates, unsure where the fudge-coated peanuet butter cookies go. The redesigned package throws him, so he tucks them amid crackers on the top shelf and continues down the row.

"Who are you?" Tracy Mobley asked, he recalled.

"Mom, are you joking with me or what?"

"No," she replied. She was adamant. "Who are you?"

It's a gnawing fear that one fateful day, the memories of aging parents will fade and they won't be able to recognize their own children.

For Austin, it started early, He was 6.

Austin is in an emerging generation of young caretakers of parents who have dementia.

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