Dementia in the News

Diabetes may hasten progression to dementia in older people with mild thinking impairment, new research shows.

So-called mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, increases a person's risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia. But aside from a person's severity of mental impairment, there is currently no way to predict which people with MCI will go on to develop full-blown dementia.

Diabetes has been tied to mental decline and dementia in aging, but it is not currently known whether people with MCI who have diabetes are at greater risk of future dementia.

People with a gene linked to long life and good health are also less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

They said people with two copies of a certain version of the cholesteryl ester transfer protein or CETP gene had significantly slower memory declines compared with people who had different versions of the gene.

A fast-acting compound that appears to improve cognitive function impairments in mice similar to those found in patients with progressive Alzheimer's disease has been identified by scientists at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Program in Drug Discovery. Researchers hope to one day replicate the result in humans.

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.

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