Dementia in the News

For decades scientists have known that the ability to remember newly learned information declines with age, but it was not clear why. A new study may provide part of the answer.

The report, posted online on Sunday by the journal Nature Neuroscience, suggests that structural brain changes occurring naturally over time interfere with sleep quality, which in turn blunts the ability to store memories for the long term.

Researchers have chosen an experimental drug by Eli Lilly & Co. for a large federally funded study testing whether it's possible to prevent Alzheimer's disease in older people at high risk of developing it.

The drug, called solaneuzumab (sol-ah-NAYZ-uh-mab), is designed to bind to and help clear the sticky deposits that clog patients' brains.

Earlier studies found it did not help people with moderate to severe Alzeimer's but it showed some promise against milder disease. Researchers think it might work better if given before symptoms start.

The doctors crowd around the computer monitor, examining the brain scans of the man lying on their operating table down the hall. The metal headdress they have mounted to his cranium - or "stereotactic frame" in medical lingo - provides coordinates, a sort of 3-D GPS they will use to guide platinum-iridium electrodes deep into his brain. The electricity pulsing through those electrodes will temporarily short out his misfiring globus pallidus.

Long-awaited federal funding has been approved for a first-of-its-kind, Boston-led study to test whether drugs can hold off Alzheimer's disease in people who have no symptoms of the illness, but who have an abnormal protein in their brains believed to be a hallmark of the disease.

The National Institutes of Health announced Monday that the clinical trial, to be led by Dr. Reisa Sperling, an Alzheimer's specialist at Brigham and Women's Hospital, is one of four that will be funded this year to find treatments for the disease.

As population age worldwide and the number of people with dementia is set to soar over the next few decades, a crisis in eldercare looms. At the same time, the use of personal technology - smartphones, tablets, wearable monitors - is exploding. Can technology help society avert the crisis? some researchers envision a future in which older adults with cognitive decline or Alzheimer's disease could stay independenet longer with the help of technology. Robots and interactive computers would aid an impaired senior to complete simple tasks.

As many of you know, Alzheimer's is an absolutely devastating neurodegenerative disease. It destroys the lives of loved ones with the disease, takes a terrible toll on family and friends who care for them, and costs, for patient care alone, an estimated $200 billion a year.

The unusually high incidence of early-onset Alzheimer's disease in this isolated cattle town has thrust it to the forefront of global efforts to find a cure for the debilitating malady.

Next spring, 100 residents of this region in northwestern Columbia who are known to carry a mutant gene linked to the disease will begin taking a therapeutic drug produced by the U.S. biotechnology firm Genentech. The five-year clinical trial, called the Alzheimer's Prevention Initiative, will cost $100 million. The effort is backed by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and includes UCLA.

A little physical activity can go a long way toward extending your life, regardless of your weight, a new study found. People who walked briskly or did other activity at only half the recommended amount gained nearly 2 years in life expectancy compared to inactive people. Those who exercised even more gained up to 4.5 years of life.

It was in 2009 when Dr. Rudy Tanzi was asked to appear in a GQ magazine photo shoot for a campaign called "Rock Stars of Science." The shoot, organized by the Geoffrey Beene Foundation, was aimed at raising awareness of scientific research by matching accomplished researchers with famous musicians. Tanzi, who heads Massachusetts General Hospital's Genetics and Aging Research Unit and teaches neurology at Harvard Medical School, was paired with a fellow Bostonian, Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry.

Alzheimer's researchers and drug companies have for years concentrated on one hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease: the production of toxic shards of a protein that accumulate in plaques on the brain.

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