Category Archives: Studies

Can Alzheimer’s disease be prevented?

New Scientific Hypothesis Brings Hope of Killing Alzheimer’s

More than five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s, a devastating neurological disease that robs patients of their memory and cognitive functioning. Finding a prevention tool has been on the wish list of scientists and treatment providers for decades.

Brain-Infecting Microbes: Old Theory Gets a New Lease of Life

Can Alzheimer’s disease be prevented?

A soon to be published editorial in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease will re-open an old conversation as to the cause of Alzheimer’s. According to the editorial, signed by 31 scientists from around the world, the cause of the disease may be microbial infections in the brain, such as Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), Borrelia burgdorferi, which causes Lyme disease, or Chlamydophila pneumoniae, which causes pneumonia. The experts’ theory is that when the APOE є4 gene variant, which is known to be an Alzheimer’s disease risk factor, is present — a microbial infection can cause debilitating damage to the brain. This theory, dismissed once before, is getting a new look, and if researchers are able to prove it, which will not be easy, then perhaps in the future there will be a way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Microbial Infections Vs. Amyloid Proteins and Tau Tangles

To date, researchers have been focusing on amyloid proteins and tau tangles, which have been proven to be causative agents in the brain cell death experienced by Alzheimer’s patients. While not dismissing the role of these factors, the aforementioned theory that has resurfaced, labeled ‘the pathogen hypothesis’, says that microbial infections are causing the tau tangles and buildup of amyloid proteins, resulting in the ensuing cell death. According to Dr. Brian Balin, Director of the Center for Chronic Disorders of Aging at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and co-author of the editorial in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, amyloid proteins play a part in the disease, but only in response to the initial inflammation caused by the microbial infection that is attacking the brain.

Senior Woman Memory Loss

Earlier Examinations of the Pathogen Theory Were Not Conclusive

The pathogen theory is not new. In 1979, a study was published in The Lancet, which reported that scientists at the University of Manchester examined patients carrying APOE є4 whose brains were infected with HSV-1. They found that the prevalence of Alzheimer’s was 12 times higher than when only the gene was present or when there was an infection. A 2010 study at Harvard University, headed by Dr. Rudolph Tanzi, Director of Massachusetts Hospital’s Genetics and Aging Research Center, found that amyloid protein seems to accumulate in response to infection. In research conducted since 2010, Dr. Tanzi has found that amyloid protein increases as a defense mechanism to protect the brain from the infection. One of the points of opposition, though, is that HSV-1 can also be found in the brains of healthy older people.

There Are Major Ramifications If the Theory Can Be Proven

If conclusive evidence can be found that microbial infections are a causative agent in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, it would dramatically alter the way we approach the disease. Instead of dealing with the consequences, patients could be given a vaccine against the infections.

How to Prove the Theory?

The major stumbling block to proving the theory is that it is not possible to determine if infections such as HSV-1 are present in the brain as long as the patient is still living. Only upon death and autopsy can the brain be examined for these microbial infections. It will require many more years of clinical trials to determine if the pathogen theory is valid. Nevertheless, researchers such as Dr. Balin and others believe it is more than worth it to continue with the research. They hope the upcoming editorial will give credence to their approach and also free up much needed funding.

The Truth about Alzheimer’s

the truth about alzheimer

 

Alzheimer’s is a progressive neurological disease. It is the most common form of dementia, whereby the brain cells degenerate, leading to loss of memory and other cognitive skills. Many of the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s are overlooked due to misinformation about the normal process of aging. For instance, it is not uncommon to hear someone associate their age with their inability to remember things. Unfortunately, this leads to the loss of vital time that could be used to begin treatment protocols that can slow down the progression of the disease.

Here are some common myths about Alzheimer’s.

1. Alzheimer’s disease will not kill you. Actually, Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. But beyond this, Alzheimer’s robs a person of all the elements of life, even if they are still breathing. Memory loss, loss of motor abilities, severe cognitive dysfunction, eating disorders, loss of ability to connect to others, all of these drastically reduce quality of life.

2. There are drugs today to prevent or stop Alzheimer’s. Not true. Considerable research is going into developing drug protocols, but at this time, FDA-approved therapies can, at the most, delay worsening of symptoms for up to a year. They have proven to be effective for approximately half of the patients subscribed.
3. Only old people get Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is a neurological disease that is not restricted to age. People as young as 30 can exhibit symptoms of early stage Alzheimer’s. In fact of the estimated 5 million people in America with Alzheimer’s, 200,000 are under the age of 65.

4. Poor memory is a part of aging. It is true that as a person grows older, it CAN become more challenging to remember things, such as a person’s name, or the name of some city you once visited. In fact, these days, all of us struggle with recall due a vast amount of information overload. For a person with Alzheimer’s this inability to remember is much more pronounced and serious. With Alzheimer’s the brain cells that control memory slowly die, causing the patient to forget even his or her closest family members. They can become lost on the way home, forgetting a route taken for decades. It is very important to distinguish the type of memory loss you or a loved one may be experiencing as soon as possible through consultation with a qualified healthcare practitioner so that appropriate measures can be taken as quickly as possible.

grandmother
5. Artificial sweeteners cause Alzheimer’s. Aspartame, commonly known as Equal or Nutrasweet, have been the subject of many health concerns. However, in spite of hundreds of clinical trials and laboratory tests, no concrete evidence has emerged to link aspartame to Alzheimer’s.

6. Risk to Alzheimer’s is increased if you have silver dental fillings. The silver used in dental fillings contains about 50% mercury. Mercury can be toxic to organs and brain cells. Therefore, some have expressed a correlation between the presence of silver fillings and Alzheimer’s disease. But, to date there has been no proof of a link, in spite of substantial research into the matter undertaken by top research universities and national health institutions.

7. Aluminum can cause Alzheimer’s. A few decades ago, some thought there might be a connection between cooking in aluminum pots or drinking from aluminum cans and the onset of Alzheimer’s. But, like the dental fillings, no study was able to prove aluminum to be a causative factor in developing Alzheimer’s.

8. You can develop Alzheimer’s from flu shots. While there is some evidence to suggest that flu shots can cause certain ailments, there is no proof that the shot causes Alzheimer’s. In fact, two studies, one out of Canada in 2001 and the second reported in JAMA in 2004 suggest that being vaccinated against the flu may actually lower the risk to developing Alzheimer’s.

A Journey Through the Effects of Alzheimer’s on the Brain Part 1

Michael Mullan presents a short introduction to the brain :

1. Three pounds of power

The human brain weighs 3 pounds, however it’s the body’s most potent organ. The brain closely resembles jelly to touch.

There are three main sections:

The Cerebrum: This occupies most of the skull and is responsible for memory, problem solving, feeling, thinking and movement.
The Cerebellum: Located at the rear of the skull and beneath the cerebrum, the cerebellum handles balance and your coordination.
The Brain Stem: Is also under the cerebrum but in front of the cerebellum. It is connected with the spinal cord and is in control of your automated functions including breathing, food digestion, blood pressure and heart rate.

2.The supply line

To feed your brain the body nourishes it with networks or rich blood vessels.
Every heartbeat sends arteries with approximately one quarter of your blood up to the brain. Here 20% of the fuel and oxygen carried in the blood

The Brain- Michael Mullan

is consumed by billions of cells.
If you’re deep in thought, you could be using up to one half of the oxygen and fuel.

The vessel network consists of capillaries and veins as well as arteries.

3. The cortex: The thinking layer

The wrinkled outside layer of your brain is called the cortex and it serves some very special functions. By mapping the cortex, scientists have been able to link specific functions to certain areas of the cortex.

These include:

Interpreting sensations in the body, sounds, sights and smells.
Creating thought, solving problems and making plans.
Controlling voluntary movement.

4. Left brain and right brain

Most people are aware that the brain has left and right sides, however experts are still not exactly sure how the left and right brains differ in their functions, with these exceptions:

The left side handles movement on the opposite right side of the body
The right side conversely controls movement on the left of the body

Brain Strength-Micheal Mullan

Generally language is processed on the left

5. Neuron Forests

The true activity in your brain occurs within individual cells. The adult brain has 100 billion nerve cells, called neurons, which connect to 100 trillion other points. This incredibly dense network is called a “neuron forest”.

Thoughts, memories and feelings are a result of a signal that travels through the neuron forest.
Alzheimer’s disease is responsible for destroying neurons.

Epilepsy Drug Offers Hope for Radical Approach to Preventing Alzheimer’s Dementia

A Johns Hopkins study of eighty-four test subjects found that a drug used to treat epilepsy appears to reverse pre-dementia loss of memory. More testing is required, but if the results continue over the long term, patients experiencing Alzheimer’s dementia could have a new lease on life.
Dementia is a term used to describe mental loss to the degree that one has difficulty performing everyday activities. Amnesic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) is a form of dementia that impacts memory function that resides in the hippocampal, making it difficult or impossible to remember recent experiences, meeting schedules or conversations. aMCI causes a higher degree of memory loss than normal, at an earlier age, and when this manifests it is a good predictor of increased risk to develop Alzheimer’s dementia.

Doctor shows the patient how to use daily dose pillsEpilepsy is a seizure disorder. Abnormal cell activity in the brain causes seizure. Cognitive impairment and epilepsy share a common characteristic: hyperactivity in the brain, known as hippocampal overactivity. Doctors have begun to treat epilepsy patients with antiepileptic levetiracetam, a new drug that has been successful in quieting brain activity and reducing seizures in epilepsy patients. Now, it appears that it can also help to prevent or reverse early stages of Alzheimer’s dementia.

The research study, led by Michela Gallagher, and published in in NeuroImage: Clinical, consisted of 17 control test subjects and 67 test subjects exhibiting symptoms of pre-dementia memory loss. Low doses of antiepileptic levetiracetam were administered, at various levels to the group, and also a placebo. Brain hyperactivity that had previously been identified by an MRI scan showed a return to normal when subjects completed routine tasks. Memory also improved, leading the research team to conclude that antiepileptic levetiracetam could be a powerful preventative drug to delay or eliminate the cognitive deterioration that leads to Alzheimer’s dementia.

Is a Cure for Alzheimer’s on the Horizon?

Alzheimer’s disease impacts the entire world

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most serious afflictions of our generation. Current projections indicate that some form of dementia will strike approximately 50 million individuals around the world, and in the majority of cases, it will be Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s impacts not only the patient, but also family members who are strapped with the emotional and financial burden of caring for a loved one who may not even remember their name.

Is there any hope?

The serious consequences of Alzheimer’s disease has propelled numerous research efforts to seek better treatment therapies and ultimately a prevention tool. For instance, researchers currently at the Raskamp Institute began in the early 1990s to examine the role of a protein known as amyloid, which occurs naturally in the brain, but in the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient, there is an unhealthy build-up of it resulting in the destruction of brain cells. Researchers wanted to know if it was the amyloid itself that was causing Alzheimer’s. In their study, it was concluded that amyloid was a causative agent.

Drugs that target amyloid hold promise for prevention and better treatment

It appears that their findings have been confirmed. Biogen Idec developed and recently completed phase 2 trials on a drug named aducanumab that specifically targets amyloid. The newly released findings reveal that, after a year-long test of early stage Alzheimer’s patients, amyloid seems to cause Alzheimer’s. Two key aspects of the test must be kept in mind though: (1) test subjects were in the early stage of Alzheimer’s and (2) there are other causative factors, such as genetics, that play a role in the onset of Alzheimer’s. Nevertheless, the results give new hope to researchers developing drug treatments that target amyloid. Positive results from aducanumab also is good news for ongoing research at Roskamp Institute where nilvadipine, a drug developed by the Institute’s team of scientists, is ready to go to phase 3 trials in nine countries. This drug also targets the amyloid protein. Both trials hopefully will result in the necessary confirmation that drugs that attack amyloid might actually bring a universal end to the suffering of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease Patients May Soon Have Two New Drugs in Their Treatment Plan

Two new drugs, memantine and cholinesterase inhibitors, have recently been approved by the FDA for use in treating Alzheimer’s patients. Both drugs address the problem of cognitive dysfunction which is very significant in Alzheimer’s disease.

Clinical trials

Clinical trials are an approved and safe way to measure the safety and effectiveness of new drugs. Under this carefully monitored regiment, new drugs are introduced to patients and the outcomes can be measured in a controlled environment, noting their impact on the disease and patient. Clinical trials provide the only mechanism for developing new drug protocols and moving them to market, thereby coming closer and closer to disease prevention.

Average approach to Alzheimer’s disease therapy

Each Alzheimer’s patient receives an individualized treatment plan, depending upon the doctor’s recommendations following a careful assessment and measurement of relevant factors, such as:

• An overall health appraisal and collection of the patient’s medical history
• Measurement of the disease’s progression thus far
• Identifying what drug and treatment therapies are tolerable to the patient
• Assessing the patient’s prospects into the future
• The wishes of the patient or of his guardians

Cognitive function is seriously impacted by Alzheimer’s disease

One of the most serious and debilitating outcomes of Alzheimer’s is that the patient loses the ability to access memory and learn new concepts. This is due to brain cell death and the destruction of the synapses, the connectors, between cells which worsens as the disease advances. Medications available today on the market cannot reverse this damage caused to the cells and synapses. The best they can offer is a lessening of the symptoms and slight improvement in mental outlook of the patient.

Neurotransmitters are key to neuron communication

The two new drugs, cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine both act on neurotransmitters. In the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient, neuron communication is hindered by damaged synapses. Cholinesterase inhibitors decelerate the process that is the cause of neurotransmitter damage. Memantine addresses glutamate, which when attached to the cell’s surface creates a condition whereby calcium is able to enter the cell. Alzheimer’s disease results in overproduction of glutamate, leading to higher levels of calcium and cell destruction. Memantine will limit the amount of calcium going into the cells.

Parkinson’s May Be Treated with E.coli

University of Michigan Symbol

University of Michigan Symbol

The Molecular Cell recently published a research paper conducted by the University of Michigan which discovered a protein in E. coli that is capable of restricting the formation of toxic amyloids – a common element of debilitating diseases such as Parkinson’s. The formation of amyloids takes place when proteins form incorrectly, and they have the capacity to cause irreparable damage to brain tissue, even cellular death. The surprise findings by the University of Michigan researchers have the potential to lead to a therapeutic approach to the treatment of Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, by targeting these amyloids.

Both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s share similarities in the way that amyloids affect them. However it has been found that E. coli and other cells are capable of assembling amyloids that are helpful to normal cellular function. The curli on the surface of E. coli cells have a protective role. These curli cause bacteria to stick to stomach walls in humans, thereby causing sickness. The beneficial amyloids that are produced by E. coli are not made inside the actual cell; therefore there is no toxicity for the bacteria.

There is something within E. coli that is capable of inhibiting the assemblage of amyloids within the cells. Since nothing takes place inside the cells, and protein synthesis takes place on the surface and is not toxic. Scientists conducted biochemical testing in order to understand precisely how E. coli blocked amyloids from forming within the cells. Ultimately a protein was discovered – CsgC – capable of inhibiting the formation of amyloids that are associated with diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

The research also discovered another possibility. Curli could be targeted for invading biofilms – shields to deter antibiotics and antiseptics. Although E. coli bacteria have the capacity to cause chronic infections, the new discoveries could lead to drug therapy capable of retarding the biofilms and making the bacteria more vulnerable by treating them with molecules that block the formation of curli.