Dementia in the News

On a good day, Elizabeth Brood wakes up at 4:30 a.m. and goes to the gym before her boyfriend heads to work around 6:15 a.m. She makes coffee, readies her parents' morning medications – making sure to hide her mother's in chunks of bananas and in the cereal bowl – and changes her mother into fresh clothes. She takes her father to a day program, and sometimes a nurse comes to the house to help her care for her mother, giving her a chance to go grocery shopping or run other errands.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD) are the most common human neurodegenerative diseases. AD is primarily a dementing disease, and PD is a movement disorder. Together, they affect around 50 million people worldwide, with the vast majority of disease cases being sporadic. Their incidence increases with age. Like most neurodegenerative diseases, AD and PD are caused by the aggregation of a small number of proteins, with filament assemblies constituting the end-point of protein aggregation.

Alzheimer’s may be one of the most frightening health challenges today. Over five million Americans - one in eight age 65 and older and one in three age 85 and older - are living with dementia and we don’t yet have a treatment that can prevent or cure the disease. But these men and women are not alone. They are supported by 15.5 million family members and friends, and there are things we can all do to ease their burden.

Some risk factors for heart disease may also be linked with Alzheimer's and other types of dementia, a new study reports.

"We already know that vascular risk factors damage the brain and can result in cognitive [mental] impairment," study lead author Dr. Kevin King said in a news release from the journal Radiology.

On behalf of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), I am pleased to present our first Professional Judgment Budget, commonly referred to as a Bypass Budget, for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. This plan for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 outlines the optimal approach NIH would take in an ideal world unconstrained by fiscal limitations to make real and lasting progress against this devastating group of disorders.

At the annual Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in July 2015, scientists report some encouraging news about the benefits of exercise. In the first studies to look at physical activity among people already diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s, moderate to high intensity workouts may not only slow down the biological symptoms of Alzheimer’s—but may lead to improvements in cognitive functions as well.

Women who develop slight but detectable deficits in memory and mental acuity late in life tend to decline faster than men with mild impairment, researchers reported on Tuesday.

Some two-thirds of the five million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease are women, a disparity that is partly because women live longer. Researchers have searched in vain for decades to determine other reasons.

Alzheimer's disease seems to develop differently in the brains of black patients than in whites. And, black people seem more likely to suffer different types of brain changes that also contribute to dementia, a new study reports.

Alzheimer's disease dementia is generally associated with a build-up of substances known as plaques and tangles inside the brain. But, there are other brain changes that can also contribute to dementia, the study authors noted.

Type 2 diabetes is known to put individuals at risk for numerous health complications. Now, a study led by researchers at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center sheds new light on the often-overlooked toll that diabetes can take on brain health.

This study found that over a period of just two years, older adults with Type 2 diabetes developed complications in blood flow regulation in the brain that led to impaired memory and other cognitive problems.

Ultra-high resolution imaging tools like 7-Tesla MRI now allowresearchers to glimpse the brain in extraordinary detail, openingthe door to new diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders.

Two imaging advances in particular – focused ultrasound andneuroimaging diagnostics in neurodegenerative and psychiatricillnesses – were featured in the 2015 Disruptive Dozen, the listof 12 technologies predicted to have the greatest impact onneurological care in the coming decade by Partners faculty.

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