This week, we’ll be rounding up 5 of the most impactful tweets from the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) held in London, England this year. The AAIC is the largest international conference dedicated to furthering Alzheimer’s disease and dementia research, uniting researchers from more than 70 countries across the globe. Here are the highlights from the research presented at the AAIC to keep you in the loop.
July 21, 2017 | by Kathy Manta
New research presented at the AAIC shows the clinical significance of using amyloid-beta PET scans to diagnose certain cases of Alzheimer’s disease by revealing the levels of amyloid in the brain. The accumulation of amyloid-beta plaques is thought to interfere with communication between neurons. The accumulation of these protein tangles are believed to be one of the main contributors to the symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, FDG PET scans provides information which could be helpful in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease, however amyloid PET scans could prove to be a more direct measure of Alzheimer’s.
Based on a series of studies conducted throughout the US, researchers have discovered a correlation between stressful experiences and accelerated aging of the brain. These stressors include, but are not limited to, being seriously ill, having an abusive parent, being fired from a job, or going through a financial crisis. Individuals who have experienced this stress have been shown to have worse memory and thinking skills in old age, with each stressor being equivalent to approximately 4 added years of cognitive aging. These findings can also be used to explain the higher incidence of Alzheimer’s disease in African-Americans, as it has been shown that on average, African-American individuals experience 60% more stress than Caucasian individuals given the same educational backgrounds and age.
Researchers have recently discovered three new nonsynonymous mutations on various genes associated with Alzheimer’s disease. These genes code for proteins highly expressed in a microglia-mediated immune response. Researchers at the UK Dementia Institute state that this process is easier to artificially manipulate, making them good targets for future drugs. The first gene, PLCG2, has a variant that could produce protective mechanisms against late onset Alzheimer’s disease. The other two genes, AB13 and TREM2, have mutations that are associated with an increased risk of developing the disease.
According to researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the use of pauses and filler words in speech may be indicative of cognitive decline, which can lead to Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers studied 264 individuals in their 50s and 60s, with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and asked them to perform a picture description test, two years apart. In the second round of tests, the individuals significantly declined in terms of their ability to describe the picture and their fluency of speech, as compared to the control group. On average, the experimental group spoke in shorter sentences, took longer to convey what they had to say and used more pronouns such as “it” and “they” as opposed to specific names for things.
Immunotherapy as a treatment method for Alzheimer’s disease is the current focus of active clinical trials being conducted at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. Researchers use a method of passive immunotherapy with monoclonal antibodies in order to avoid adverse effects such as allergic encephalitis that have occurred in previous active immunization studies for Alzheimer’s disease. Bapineuzumab, a monoclonal antibody, was the first passive immunotherapy tested for Alzheimer’s disease and this therapy showed positive results in terms of cognitive testing in individuals who do not posses the ApoE-4 gene. Currently there are 14 types of immunotherapies against Alzheimer’s disease in various phases of testing, with most of them using monoclonal antibodies to target the amyloid-beta protein. Monoclonal antibodies have shown to have the greatest effects when administered early on in the disease, therefore current clinical trials are focusing on prodromal Alzheimer’s disease.
Keywords: Alzheimer's Disease, Clinical Development, Dementia
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