Dementia in the News

In 2003, a group of scientists and executives from the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, the drug and medical-imaging industries, universities and nonprofit groups joined in a project that experts say had no precedent: a collaborative effort to find the biological markers that show the progression of Alzheimer's disease in the human brain.

Researchers report that a spinal fluid test can be 100 percent accurate in identifying patients with significant memory loss who are on their way to developing Alzheimer's disease.

Although there has been increasing evidence of the value of this and other tests in finding signs of Alzheimer’s, the study, which will appear Tuesday in the Archives of Neurology, shows how accurate they can be. The new result is one of a number of remarkable recent findings about Alzheimer’s.

Five of the six members of the Memory Ensemble were gathered in a nondescript conference room at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, ready to begin their weekly improvisational acting workshop.

“Where’s Irv? We need Irv,” one said.

“Oh, he’s always late,” said another. “He’s very dependable that way.”

Will Alzheimer's disease, a terrible degenerative brain disease with no treatments and no clear guidelines for diagnosis before its end stages, become like heart disease? Will there be early markers of risk, analogous to high cholesterol levels, that will predict who is likely to get it? And will there be drugs that actually prevent it?

A team of Toronto scientists is pushing Alzheimer's research in a radical new direction - testing whether electrodes implanted deep in patients' brains can jolt their memories into good working order.

Harvard researchers have uncovered a mechanism through which caloric restriction and exercise delay some of the debilitating effects of aging by rejuvenating the connections between nerves and the muscles that they control.

The research, conducted in the labs of Joshua Sanes and Jeff Lichtman, both members of the Center for Brain Science at Harvard and professors of molecular and cellular biology, begins to explain prior findings that exercise and restricted-calorie diets help to starve off the mental and physical degeneration of aging.

First Alzheimer's disease stole Rosemary DeFelice’s speech, mobility and independence. Then, at 75, she lost the ability to eat.

She would chew away at her food, coughing and sputtering and spitting up but swallowing very little, said her daughter, Cyndy Viveiros. And like many relatives caring for patients with advanced dementia, Ms. Viveiros had to decide whether or not to have a gastric feeding tube inserted.

Cardiac index - the measure of how well the heart is pumping blood to the brain and the rest of the body - may be a future indicator of a person's risk for developing dementia.

A study in this week's Circulation suggests cardiac index is linked to brain size, even in people without heart disease, a known risk factor for dementia.

Imagine a test that could tell you if you would develop Alzheimer's disease well before you experience memory loss or other symptoms. With no cure and limited treatment available, would you take it?

More than five million Americans suffer from the disease. It's the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

Education has been linked to dementia risk for dementia for decades, but researchers behind a new study opened up the brains of hundreds of people who had died with the disease to try to find out why this correlation exists.

The scientists found that the number of years a person had spent in school early in life did not change the amount of damage to the brain from dementia.

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