Monday October 21, 2019

US Researchers Finding Ways to Treat Dementia

Researchers are looking for ways to treat or prevent dementia, and a promising clinical trial is underway in the US

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Dementia is a rapidly growing public health problem throughout the world. VOA

Dementia is a rapidly growing public health problem around the world. Fifty million people suffer from dementia, and in the next 30 years, that number is expected to triple. Researchers are looking for ways to treat or prevent dementia, and a promising clinical trial is underway in the U.S.

Dementia is not a normal part of aging, but age is a huge risk factor. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, maintaining healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels help stave off dementia as we grow older

As people around the world live longer, health agencies and researchers are looking for ways to prevent, stop or treat dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, one of the most common types of dementia.

Promising clinical trial

David Shorr was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at 56.He is about to undergo a new procedure that could treat early stage Alzheimer’s. He is with his doctor, Vibhor Krishna, a neurosurgeon at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.

The procedure Shorr is about to have involves sound waves. Ultrasound waves target and open the blood-brain barrier — a protective layer that shields the brain from infections. But Krishna says the barrier also makes it hard to treat neurodegerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. “Opening the blood-brain barrier allows us to access more of the brain tissue and be able to increase the effectiveness or bioavailability of the therapeutics,” Krishna said.

Shorr and his wife, Kim, were willing to try any new treatment that might help with his dementia. Kim describes the couple’s reaction when they received a phone call inviting Shorr to participate in a clinical trial. “There’s this trial. Would you be interested?” she said, describing the call. “And without really knowing what it was, we said, Sure.’”

Ultrasound targets protein buildup

Shorr became one of 10 patients enrolled in the study. The trial tests MRI-guided imaging to target the part of the brain responsible for memory and cognition. Krishna explains that’s where Alzheimer’s patients have a buildup of toxic proteins called amyloid. “Higher deposition of amyloid goes hand in hand with loss of function in Alzheimer’s disease,” he said.

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FILE – Dr. William Burke goes over a PET brain scan, Aug. 14, 2018, at Banner Alzheimers Institute in Phoenix. VOA

Krishna says this procedure might allow a patient’s own immune system to clear some of the amyloid. In this procedure, ultrasound wave pulses cause microscopic bubbles to expand and contract in the brain. “The increase and decrease in size of these microbubbles mechanically opens the blood-brain barrier,” Krishna said. The patient is awake during the procedure.

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Study could help others

Opening the barrier may one day allow doctors to deliver medication straight to the site of the disease. Kim Shorr realizes her husband might not benefit from this treatment.

“We’re hopeful it can help him, but we also know maybe it will help somebody else,” she said. Shorr is glad to be part of a study that could help others who are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, even if it doesn’t help him. (VOA)

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2 Drinks a Day Put Adults at a Higher Risk of Developing Dementia

If you drink nearly 14 drinks per week (2 drinks per day), you may be at a higher risk of developing dementia than those who enjoy drink a week

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No amount of alcohol consumption was significantly associated with higher risk for dementia compared with drinking less than one drink per week. Pixabay

If you drink nearly 14 drinks per week (2 drinks per day) and already suffer from mild cognitive impairment (MCI), you may be at a higher risk of developing dementia than those who enjoy drink a week, say researchers.

According to researchers from Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, among those adults with MCI, the risk of dementia according to numbers of alcoholic drinks per week wasn’t statistically significant, although it appeared to be highest for drinking more than 14 drinks per week compared with less than one drink.

In this cohort study of 3,021 participants aged 72 years and older, alcohol intake within recommended limits was not significantly associated with a lower risk of dementia among participants with or without mild cognitive impairment at baseline.

Among participants without mild cognitive impairment, daily low-quantity drinking was associated with lower dementia risk compared with infrequent higher-quantity drinking.

“The findings suggest that physicians caring for older adults need to carefully assess the full dimensions of drinking behaviour and cognition when providing guidance to patients about their alcohol consumption,” said the research led by Manja Koch from T.H. Chan School of Public Health and published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

The study analyzed 3,021 adults (72 and older) who were free of dementia (2,548 were without MCI and 473 with MCI). During about six years of follow-up, there were 512 cases of dementia, including 348 cases of Alzheimer disease.

Among those adults without MCI, no amount of alcohol consumption was significantly associated with higher risk for dementia compared with drinking less than one drink per week.

Given the rapidly growing burden of Alzheimer disease (AD) and other dementias, including 50 million people currently living with dementia and 82 million expected by 2030, the identification of factors that prevent or delay the onset of dementia remains of paramount concern.

drinks, everyday, dementia, higher risk, risk
The participants reported their frequency of beer, wine, and liquor consumption in days per week and their usual number of 12-oz cans or bottles of beer, 6-oz glasses of wine, and shots of liquor consumed on each occasion. Pixabay

During the study, the participants reported their frequency of beer, wine, and liquor consumption in days per week and their usual number of 12-oz cans or bottles of beer, 6-oz glasses of wine, and shots of liquor consumed on each occasion.

“We categorized participants according to their alcohol consumption as follows: none, less than 1 drink per week, 1 to 7 drinks per week, 7.1 to 14 drinks per week, and more than 14 drinks per week,” the authors wrote.

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In this study of older adults, the association of self-reported alcohol consumption with dementia risk appeared to cluster into 3 separate dimensions—baseline cognition, dose and pattern.

“At present, our findings cannot be directly translated into clinical recommendations, and these findings warrant additional studies to confirm these associations further,” the authors suggested. (IANS)