As we age, time often seems to pass more quickly than when we were young. But is this just a cognitive illusion? Richard A. Friedman, a professor of clinical psychiatry and the director of the psycho-pharmacology clinic at the Weill Cornell Medical College explored the concept of how we perceive the passage of time in an opinion piece, Fast Time and the Aging Mind, in the July 20, 2013 New York Times. Our perception of time is influenced by many factors, he says, including emotions, attention, and memory. And if you want to slow down time, he says, become a student again and learn something new or that necessitates real effort. Read more here
Dr. Steven Arnold, Director of the Penn Memory Center and Dr. Gary Landreth, Professor of Neurosciences and Neurology and Director, Alzheimer’s Research Laboratory, Case Western
Reserve University School of Medicine, will be guests on USAgainstAlzheimer’s Alzheimer’s Talks “Could we treat Alzheimer’s with existing drugs?” teleconference on Wednesday, July 24 from 3:00 – 4:00 pm EST.
Dr. Arnold is conducting research into drug repurposing with a diabetes drug and Dr. Landreth is researching alternate uses for an existing cancer drug. They will be introduced by Dr. Guy Eakin, Vice President of Scientific Affairs at BrightFocus Foundation, a nonprofit which funds research to eradicate diseases of mind and sight, including some of this research.
Alzheimer’s Talks is a free monthly teleconference series to help individuals better understand Alzheimer’s. This call is made possible by the generous support of Emanuel J. Friedman Philanthropies.
To register for Alzheimer’s Talks click here
The Alzheimer’s Association’s 2013 Alzheimer’s disease Facts and Figures report explains that older African Americans are probably about twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s and other dementias as older Caucasians. A new study presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Boston says socioeconomic disparities account for the high Alzheimer’s prevalence in African Americans.
The study at the University of California, San Francisco and the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center surveyed about 3,000 black and white elderly people over a 12 year period. Though the black participants seemed to show more of a propensity to develop dementia, the researchers found the difference was not statistically significant after adjusting for patients’ income levels.
Dr. Kristine Yaffe, who led the study, said in a statement that the findings suggest researchers should better control for socioeconomic factors in future studies about demographics of aging populations.
These findings come on the tail of other recent research showing no genetic differences explaining the disease’s racial disparity.
Read the full story at The Boston Globe
On July 9, the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee approved a fiscal year 2014 bill that includes funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and, more specifically, for Alzheimer’s disease. The bill states that, “Without a medical breakthrough to prevent, slow, or stop [Alzheimer’s disease], the total payments for healthcare, long-term care, and hospice for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias are projected to rise from $203 billion in 2013 to a staggering $1.2 trillion in 2050. This bill includes an $84 million increase for the National Institute on Aging, the NIH Institute with the primary responsibility for preventing, treating, and curing Alzheimer’s disease. The bill also includes $20 million for a new Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative that will strengthen dementia-capable long-term services and supports, assist caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, and train healthcare providers on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s and manage the disease.”
The full Senate Appropriations Committee will meet on July 11 to review the bill. For more information on the bill, click here
In a June 24, 2013 article, “Before Night Falls: Alzheimer’s researchers seek a new approach,” The New Yorker interviews Reisa Sperling, MD, director of the Alzheimer’s clinical research center at Bringham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. The article outlines a new study, the Anti-Amyloid Treatment in Asymptomatic Alzheimer’s Disease Trial (or A4 Trial), which Dr. Sperling and Paul Aisen, MD, of the University of California, San Diego will jointly oversee. The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, aims at targeting beta-amyloid plaques in patients with pre-clinical Alzheimer’s disease in order to slow the accumulation of these plaques in the brain, and the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, before they start.
Read full article here
On June 17, 2013 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the 2013 Alzheimer’s disease plan update. The initial “National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease” was released in May 2012 under the 2011 National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA). President Obama signed the National Alzheimer’s Project Act to support Alzheimer’s research and help individuals and families affected by Alzheimer’s disease. The National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s disease was developed by experts in Alzheimer’s disease and aging to discover techniques to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025, improve care for patients, enhance public awareness, and increase support for caregivers. The 2013 update to the National Plan highlights completed goals over the past year in addition to recommendations for additional action steps.
Highlights in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease this past year include the National Institutes of Health organized the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Summit in May 2012 to bring together national and international experts, researchers, and advocacy groups to develop suggestions on how to best advance research. Several new Alzheimer’s research projects were funded in areas including clinical trails, genetic sequencing, and development of new cellular models for Alzheimer’s disease. These projects can be reviewed in the 2011-2012 Alzheimer’s Disease Progress Report. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched a website, www.alzheimers.gov, to spread public awareness and provide information and resources to people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers. This website reached a wide audience, with more than 200,000 visits in the first ten months.
The 2013 update to the National Plan addresses the various challenges presented by Alzheimer’s disease and the update identifies actions to overcome these challenges. Specific additional actions recommended in the update include a cohesive Alzheimer’s disease training curriculum for primary care providers, assistance for families and communities affected by Alzheimer’s disease through legal services, and improvement in dementia services within state and local health networks.
This week, a strategic roadmap to help to the nation’s health care system cope with the impending public health crisis caused Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia will be published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. The plan aims to link the latest scientific findings with clinical care and bring together patients, families, scientists, pharmaceutical companies, regulatory agencies, and advocacy organizations behind a common set of prioritized goals. The consensus document is the outcome of a June meeting of leading Alzheimer’s researchers, advocates and clinicians, who gathered as part of the Marian S. Ware Alzheimer Program at the University of Pennsylvania.
Today, 5.4 million people are living with the disease, and more than 15 million Americans are caring for persons with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and the only cause of death among the top 10 in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed.
“Alzheimer’s is an enormous and complex disease, and we believe that creative thinking, repurposing of existing funds, vigilance in reducing waste, and a constant focus on cost effectiveness will help make these recommendations a much-needed reality,” said John Trojanowski, MD, PhD, senior author and director of the Penn Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center.
“The diverse perspectives collected in this report provide constructive, ethical, cost-effective guidance for policymakers,” said second author Jason Karlawish, MD, associate director of the Penn Memory Center. “The recommendations serve as a clear roadmap to bring caregivers, researchers, clinicians, and advocacy groups together and provide them much-needed support now and in the future.”
Medical historians may be familiar with the story of Dr. William Beaumont, but Jason Karlawish, MD, casts it in a new light in his novel, Open Wound: The Tragic Obsession of Dr. William Beaumont. The story is fascinating on many levels, but it is Karlawish’s portrayal of Beaumont’s unstoppable, desperate, and almost dangerous ambition that takes center stage in this engaging historical account.
As the Alzheimer’s disease (AD) field moves closer to using genetic and biomarker data to identify people at risk, researchers are urgently trying to tackle whether and how to disclose that information to people in both routine clinical care and research settings. This past February, the Alzheimer Research Forum, an online scientific knowledge base for Alzheimer’s disease, published a detailed account of the issues involved and ongoing studies aimed at these goals. At the 2012 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Vancouver, three of the featured researchers updated attendees on their projects at a plenary session dedicated to the topic.
One topic of discussion at the AAIC session was the questions of whether it is psychologically harmful to divulge ApoE4 carrier status, which is associated with a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease, to cognitively normal people. Jason Karlawish, MD, explored perhaps an even more contentious issue of whether doctors or researchers should reveal plaque status to cognitively normal people, as research on whether cognitively normal people with plaque progress to Alzheimer’s disease is at an earlier stage. “We have great concern that it may cause despair,” said Dr. Karlawish.
Washington Post – “Aging is not a mild form of dementia,” says cellular neurobiologist John Morrison, who specializes in aging. Until recently, many scientists thought brain cells died as we aged, shrinking our brains and shedding bits of information that were gone forever. Newer findings indicate that cells in disease-free brains stay put; it’s the connections between them that break. With this new perspective has come an explosion of research into how we can keep those connections, and our brain function, intact for longer.