Dementia in the News

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.

Famous mugs do more than prompt us into buying magazines, according to new Universite de Montreal research. In the December issue of the Canadian Journal on Aging, a team of scientists explain how the ability to name famous faces or access biographical knowledge about celebrities holds clues that could help in early Alzheimer's detection.

Researchers from Boston University School of  Medicine (BUSM) have found that higher leptin (a protein that controls weight and appetite) levels were associated with a lower incidence of Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and dementia. The study, which appears in the December 16th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, may open pathways for possible preventive and therapeutic interventions.

Imaging tests may be able to detect the early signs of Alzheimer's disease long before it begins to affect memory, a finding that may lead to earlier, more effective treatments, US researchers said on Monday.

They said healthy people who have an abnormal buildup of a protein in the brain linked with Alzheimer's disease have a higher risk of developing the disease.

Aging is the single greatest risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. In their latest study, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies found that simply slowing the aging process in mice prone to develop Alzheimer's disease prevented their brains from turning into a neuronal wasteland.

When it comes to understanding a disease as complex as Alzheimer's, the more the better - genes, that is. In September, 15 years since the last discovery of its kind, scientists finally identified a new set of genes that may contribute to the memory-robbing disorder. Two groups of researchers, working separately, homed in on three genes linked to the late-onset form of the disease, the type that hits people in their 60s or later and accounts for 90% of Alzheimer's cases in the US.

More than half of HIV patients experience memory problems and other cognitive impairments as they age, and doctors know little about the underlying causes. New research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggests HIV-related cognitive deficits share a common link with Alzheimer's-related dementia:  Low levels of the protein amyloid beta in the spinal fluid.

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