ALZHEIMER’S: ENCOURAGING RESEARCH NEWS TO START 2018

 

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Art Therapy. A regular feature of our programs.

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Two of my favorite volunteer elves, just prior to Christmas last year!

Happy New Year to all our Memory Matters extended family, including our care givers and their  loved ones, our staff, volunteers (including our very active Board), and generous and supportive donors without whom we could not continue to offer our growing range of Brain Health and Memory Care services.

As one of Memory Matters 100 plus volunteers I look forward to 2018,  and reporting back to you from time to time on our plans and progress through the year. I will endeavor to cover interesting research results and informational topics made available through both US and European Universities, but mostly I expect to directly describe the very human stories that occur every day in our Compass programs and Connections classes. As a volunteer who has been privileged to spend two days a week (one in Compass and one in Connections) at Memory Matters for the last three years, I admit to enjoying being involved in the imaginative and engaging programs and classes that our staff create. Observing the joy that many participants realize combined with the respite that their caregivers derive, together with the visible progress in the Connections classes can be a remarkable experience, and whenever a “mission moment” occurs you can be sure it will be featured in these chronicles.

In the meantime here is some interesting research detail.

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Even though Alzheimer’s disease remains without a cure, there is always positive reason for hope in the medium to longer term. Research scientists have reported new findings in the past six months, and in the first and most recent example from Britain it involves a little luck! Something we all deserve. One of my “overseas research assistants” (my lovely sister-in-laws!) spotted two interesting reports in the British Independent Newspaper. So thanks go to Clare from Wales!

Lancaster University in Britain has announced that a Diabetes drug holds promise for fighting disease after ‘significantly reversing’ memory loss.

Trial in mice improved memory and lowered levels of defective molecules that form nerve killing plaques

A drug developed for type 2 diabetes significantly reverses memory loss and could have potential as a new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases, scientists say.

The study, by UK and Chinese universities, is the first to look at a new combined diabetes drug and found improvements in several characteristic symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

Lead researcher Professor Christian Holscher, from Lancaster University, said these “very promising outcomes” show multi-action drugs developed for type 2 diabetes “consistently show neurological protective effects”.

This latest study, published in the journal Brain Research, looked at a “triple action” treatment that combine three different drugs for type 2 diabetes, acting on biological pathways that could also have an impact on dementia.

Independent academics said a reduction in nerve-cell-killing protein molecules was particularly interesting and this was likely to be another avenue in the search for an elusive drug to combat dementia.

Professor Holscher has previously reported optimistic findings from an older diabetes drug, liraglutide, and clinical trials in humans are currently under way.

After two months of daily injections the mice were shown to significantly improve their performance in a maze designed to test memory.

The report concludes that the triple treatment “holds clear promise of being developed into a new treatment for chronic neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease”.

The Alzheimer’s Society, a charity which part-funded the latest study research, said that after 15 years without a new drug for Alzheimer’s disease the promising results from these crossover treatments, which are already known to be safe for humans, are likely to bring earliest benefits.

Professor Holscher added that further tests to compare its benefits against other potential treatments, and its effects in humans were needed.

But Professor John Hardy, a professor of neuroscience, at University College London who was not involved in the trial, said the study was “a first step, at best” towards a Alzheimer’s drug for humans.

“The results showing less amyloid deposition of amyloid in mice treated with glucagon receptor stimulating drugs is interesting,” he said.

“However, it should be noted that several other drugs have shown positive results in mice models of Alzheimer’s disease and then failed in human trials.”

Dr David Reynolds, chief scientific officer at Alzheimer’s Research UK, echoed this, but added: “There is a long road between studies that show an effect in animals and treatments in the hands of patients, and scientists will only be able to realise the potential of promising findings like these if we continue to invest in research.”

The Independent Newspaper also reported relevant and parallel news from MIT. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s affecting patient’s memories could be reversed, new research from MIT indicates.

It might be possible to break down the genetic blockades inside the brain which cause memory loss from Alzheimer’s, a study published in Cell Reports suggests. So far, the theory has only been tested on mice but lead author Li-Huei Tsai is hopeful that eventually it could be successful in reversing the symptom in humans.

Memory loss is a form of cognitive decline which occurs when the enzyme HCAC2 compresses the brain’s memory genes until they are rendered useless which, in turn, leads to forgetfulness and difficulty forming memories.

Whilst the obvious solution is to simply block HCAC2 in action, doing so has proven difficult without impacting other HDAC enzymes, which affect the internal organs.

MIT’s approach differs in that it exclusively affects HCAC2, leaving other enzymes undisturbed, something which has not yet been achieved.

Tsai succeeded in blocking the enzyme in December using LED lights, which prevented it from binding with Sp3, a genetic binding partner that is an integral part of genetic blockade formation.

Dr Marilyn Glenville, one of the UK’s leading nutritionists and author of Natural Solutions for Dementia and Alzheimer’s agrees that the findings are promising. “As Alzheimer’s is now the biggest killer for women and the third for men, it is important that we think about putting as much emphasis on prevention as we do on treatment,” she told The Independent Newspaper, explaining that only 5 per cent of Alzheimer’s cases are genetic.

The research is still in its early stages and has a long way to go until an official remedy comes to fruition. However, it is the most revolutionary research to date in finding something close to a cure for Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia which currently affects 850,000 people in the UK and over 5 million in the US.

If you would like more information about Memory Matters, our Brain Health initiatives, confidential memory screening, Compass day programs, Connections classes or care giver counseling, please call us at 1 843 842 6688

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