Dementia in the News

Loss of a sense of smell may be an early indication of Alzheimer's disease, research suggests.

Scientists found that changes linked to the most common form of dementia begin in mice in an area of the brain responsible for recognising smells.

The physical symptoms coincided with impaired olfactory, or smell, function. Affected animals had to sniff odors for longer to remember them than healthy mice. They also had problems differentiating between smells.

Drugs commonly used to treat high blood pressure and heart disease may reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, a new study suggests.

Boston University scientists, reporting in the journal BMJ, say a class of high blood pressure drugs called angiotensin receptor blockers is associated with a striking decrease in the risk of occurrence and progression of dementia.

Current Alzheimer's Disease (AD) research indicates that accumulation of amyloid-beta (Aβ) protein plaques in the brain is central to the development of AD. Unfortunately, presence of these plaques is typically confirmed only at autopsy. In a special issue of the journal Behavioral Neurology, researchers review the evidence that positron emission tomography (PET) can image these plaques during life. This exciting new technique provides researchers with an opportunity to test the amyloid hypothesis as it occurs in living patients.

Elderly assisted-living facilities are disproportionally located in more affluent areas, with Massachusetts lagging far behind other states in terms of the number of assisted-living units available, according to a recent Harvard Medical School study.

Alzheimer's disease may be better treated with a cocktail of therapies that limit production of the plaque that impairs the brain rather than with a single treatment, a study in mice suggests.

The combination approach preserved memory with few side effects, something individual treatment methods haven't been able to do as well, researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine said in a report published yesterday in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Microwave radiation from cell phones may protect against and even reverse Alzheimer's-like symptoms, according to a new study involving genetically-tweaked mice.

The results were so surprising that study co-author Juan Sanchez-Ramos didn't believe them at first.

"It's such a dramatic and counterintuitive effect," said Sanchez-Ramos, a Unverisity of Florida neuroscientist.

"I joked that the animals must have been mislabeled or that the power wasn't switched on."

A new type of brain scan, called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), appears to be better at detecting whether a person with memory loss might have brain changes of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study published in the January 6, 2010, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The popular botanical ginkgo biloba does not improve memory nor does it prevent cognitive decline in older people, according to the largest and longest scientific study ever undertaken to look at the supplement.

An extract derived from the gingko tree, gingkgo biloba has been touted since the 1970s by the supplement industry and others as an aid to improving memory, cognitive decline, dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Ginkgo extract has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for more than 500 years, according to the American Botanical Council.

The early stages of Alzheimer's disease are thought to occur at the synapse, since synapse loss is associated with memory dysfunction. Evidence suggests that amyloid beta (Aß) plays an important role in early synaptic failure, but little has been understood about Aß's effect on the plasticity of dendritic spines.

People with Alzheimer's disease may be less apt to get cancer and people with cancer may be less apt to get Alzheimer's disease, new research hints.

"Discovering the links between these two conditions may help us better understand both diseases and open up avenues for possible treatments," Dr. Catherine M. Roe of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, noted in a written statement from the American Academy of Neurology.

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