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A new study on Alzheimer’s disease shows that women end up bearing most of the burden – as caregivers, advocates for those with the disease, and as victims of the disease itself. The report asks Congress to pass a comprehensive strategy to manage this growing US epidemic. But the epidemic is not limited to western countries. Every seven seconds, a new case of dementia is diagnosed somewhere in the world, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
A new report takes a look at Alzheimer’s, a disease expected to triple in 40 years because it’s associated with aging, and people the world over are living longer. The report was produced by the Alzheimer’s Association and Maria Shriver, California’s First Lady. Shriver’s life has been touched by Alzheimer’s. Her father was diagnosed with the disease in 2003. That experience was the catalyst for The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s.
“Sixty percent of the people who get it are women,” said Maria Shriver. “They’re also doing the caretaking. And millions of these women are also working full-time.” The report examines Alzheimer’s in the U.S. It shows that women account for almost two-thirds of those with the disease. They are also 60 percent of the unpaid caregivers. Scientists and sociologists are calling this disease – a women’s disease.
Dr. Ted Rothstein, a neurologist at George Washington University Medical Center, says women are more affected because men have shorter lifespans. “When you reach the 75 to 85 age group, there are many more women out there than men, and the prevalence of the disease becomes more likely in women simply because there are more women around who are still living in their 80s and 85s,” said Dr. Rothstein.
The report predicts Americans will spend $20 trillion over the next 40 years on Alzheimer’s. It stresses the need for more funding for research and a national strategy to deal with the disease. “Heart disease and cancer get $6 billion, $5 billion, and Alzheimer’s gets $500 million,” said Maria Shriver. “And, in fact, it’s going to be Alzheimer’s in the next several years that’s going to get those people way before cancer or heart disease.”
Dr. Rothstein says there needs to be more research on one of two proteins that accumulate in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s. The proteins are called tau and amyloid. “It’s only recently that people have been focusing on tau as the source for Alzheimer’s disease so maybe the buildup of amyloids in the brain is secondary to the accumulation of these tau proteins,” he said. “So we may have been barking up the wrong tree and maybe the big pharmaceutical companies have been following the wrong clue.”
As the world’s population ages, the number of people affected by Alzheimer’s is expected to increase dramatically. There is no cure. Existing treatments only ease the symptoms. Meanwhile, Alzheimer’s cases are expected to affect 80 million people globally by 2040. Sixty percent will be in developing countries. A disproportionate number of those cases will be women without access to effective treatment. (VOA/JC)
Older adults who received positive airway pressure therapy prescribed for obstructive sleep apnea may be less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and other kinds of dementia, new research suggests.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition in which the upper airway collapses repeatedly throughout the night, preventing normal breathing during sleep.OSA is associated with a variety of other neurological and cardiovascular conditions, and many older adults are at high risk for OSA.
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“We found a significant association between positive airway pressure use and lower risk of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia over three years, suggesting that positive airway pressure may be protective against dementia risk in people with OSA,” said lead author Galit Levi Dunietz, Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan.
For the study, published in the journal Sleep, the research team analyzed Medicare claims of more than 50,000 Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 and older who had been diagnosed with OSA. In this nationally representative study, they examined if those people who used positive airway pressure therapy were less likely to receive a new diagnosis of dementia or mild cognitive impairment over the next three years, compared to people who did not use positive airway pressure.
The findings stress the impact of sleep on cognitive function.” If a causal pathway exists between OSA treatment and dementia risk, as our findings suggest, diagnosis and effective treatment of OSA could play a key role in the cognitive health of older adults,” said researcher Tiffany J. Braley from the varsity. (IANS/JC)
Researchers have developed a method based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) that rapidly identifies currently available medications that may treat Alzheimer’s disease.
The method could represent a rapid and inexpensive way to repurpose existing therapies into new treatments for this progressive, debilitating neurodegenerative condition. Importantly, it could also help reveal new, unexplored targets for therapy by pointing to mechanisms of drug action.
“Repurposing FDA-approved drugs for Alzheimer’s disease is an attractive idea that can help accelerate the arrival of effective treatment — but unfortunately, even for previously approved drugs, clinical trials require substantial resources, making it impossible to evaluate every drug in patients with Alzheimer’s disease,” said researcher Artem Sokolov from Harvard Medical School.
“We, therefore, built a framework for prioritizing drugs, helping clinical studies to focus on the most promising ones,” Sokolov added.
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For the study, published in Nature Communications, the team described their framework, called DRIAD (Drug Repurposing In Alzheimer’s Disease), which relies on machine learning — a branch of artificial intelligence in which systems are “trained” on vast amounts of data, “learn” to identify telltale patterns and augment researchers’ and clinicians’ decision-making.
DRIAD works by measuring what happens to human brain neural cells when treated with a drug. The method then determines whether the changes induced by a drug correlate with molecular markers of disease severity.
The approach also allowed the researchers to identify drugs that had protective as well as damaging effects on brain cells.
The team applied the screening method to 80 FDA-approved and clinically tested drugs for a wide range of conditions. The analysis yielded a ranked list of candidates, with several anti-inflammatory drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and blood cancers emerging as top contenders.
These drugs belong to a class of medications known as Janus kinase inhibitors. The drugs work by blocking the action of inflammation-fueling Janus kinase proteins, suspected to play a role in Alzheimer’s disease and known for their role in autoimmune conditions. The team’s analyses also pointed to other potential treatment targets for further investigation. (IANS/KR)
Parents, take note. If your child is exposed to air pollution, they may have a decline in thinking skills in later life, a study suggests. The study indicates that greater exposure to air pollution at the very start of life was associated with a detrimental effect on people’s cognitive skills up to 60 years later.
“For the first time we have shown the effect that exposure to air pollution very early in life could have on the brain many decades later,” said co-author Tom Russ from the University of Edinburgh.
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“This is the first step towards understanding the harmful effects of air pollution on the brain and could help reduce the risk of dementia for future generations,” Russ added.
For the study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, the researchers tested the general intelligence of more than 500 people, who were a part of the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 study, aged approximately 70 years using a test they had all completed at the age of 11 years. The test was repeated at the ages of 76 and 79 years.
And, a record of where each person had lived throughout their life was used to estimate the level of air pollution they had experienced in their early years. The findings showed exposure to air pollution in childhood had a small but detectable association with the worse cognitive change between the ages of 11 and 70 years. This study shows it is possible to estimate historical air pollution and explore how this relates to cognitive ability throughout life, the researchers said.
Researchers say until now it has not been possible to explore the impact of early exposure to air pollution on thinking skills in later life because of a lack of data on air pollution levels before the 1990s when routine monitoring began. For this study, the team used a model called the EMEP4UK atmospheric chemistry transport model to determine pollution levels — known as historical fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations — for the years 1935, 1950, 1970, 1980, and 1990. They combined these historical findings with contemporary modeled data from 2001 to estimate life course exposure. (IANS)