Today’s Top Alzheimer’s News
An April 26, 2018 Popular Science article looked at ethics surrounding growing brains in labs with the catchy title, “If you grow a brain in a lab, will it have a mind of its own?” Currently, it is only possible to grow clumps of brain cells, but one day it will certainly be possible to grow a whole brain, so now is the time to address tricky ethical questions. According to the article, “Neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have devastated millions of people, and brains in a jar (so to speak) could allow us to study disease progression and test potential medications.” Also covered by New Scientist, NPR, The Atlantic, and Nature.
An April 25, 2018 Science Trends article by Banner Alzheimer’s Institute’s Alzheimer’s Prevention Initiative clinician and researcher Pierre N. Tariot strikes a hopeful tone. Regarding finding a treatment or cure for Alzheimer’s disease, “…I want to urge everyone who cares deeply about the outcome to summon the patience and maintain the faith that someday we will find a way to prevent this heartbreaking illness. We must remember that this race for a treatment is a grueling marathon. It was never going to be a simple sprint.”
An April 25, 2018 Business Insider article focused on Genentech’s work on treatments for Alzheimer’s disease - two drugs in late-stage development. Despite a myriad of recent setbacks, researchers remain optimistic. According to the article, “…The failed trials have been helpful for its ongoing work. For one, it's made it clear that using tools like PET scans and cerebrospinal fluid testing can help pinpoint which patients have amyloid present in the brain for the treatments to act on.”
PROFILES IN COURAGE
An April 27, 2018 “About US” initiative article in The Washington Post by Salin Geevarghese, who served as a senior adviser, and later as a deputy assistant secretary, at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama, told his own story. His father, an immigrant from India, developed Alzheimer’s disease but still asked every day, “Are you going to see President Obama today?” At his father’s 83rd birthday party, “…I leaned down to my father and spoke the words I’d been waiting to say for six years: “I saw President Obama, Daddy, and he wrote you a note.” I don’t know if he understood the significance. Alzheimer’s grip on his mental faculties raised doubts for me. But I believe that the smile gracing his face meant he understood.”
According to an April 27, 2018 Medical News Today article, dark chocolate can be beneficial to brain health. It contains flavonoids, antioxidants that protect cells from damage and reduce inflammation. Two recent, small studies showed the benefits of eating a small amount of dark chocolate, containing 70 percent cacao. According to study authors, “We suggest that this superfood of 70 percent cacao enhances neuroplasticity for behavioral and brain health benefits.” Also covered by ABC News, USA Today, and others.
DEMENTIA AND THE ARTS
An April 22, 2018 The Advocate article answered the question: can someone with Alzheimer's maintain their creativity? Research from the Neuroscience Research Australia shows that not only can people with Alzheimer’s or dementia enjoy creating art, their skills can actually improve. According to the article, “…People with dementia can display new creative behaviors and skills despite also experiencing the cognitive and functional decline that is typical of Alzheimer's and dementia. Though the study showed that while it wasn't clear exactly why the disease unlocks these skills, Piguety [lead study author] reasoned that it could have something to do with the often-used areas of the brain shutting down, allowing for the other parts of the brain to shine.”
An April 26, 2018 Clarion Ledger article and video spotlighted firefighter Quinton Robertson, who is running the third annual Brawn and Bubbles 5K Run for the Brain in full gear to honor the memory of his dad who died of Alzheimer’s disease. The race raises funds to support AD and dementia research and treatment. According to the article, “Robertson moved to Mississippi from Florida to become a caregiver for his father. “I took a lot of pride in taking care of my dad,” said Robertson, who traded shifts with his mother, Linda Robertson, to provide 24-hour care. “Alzheimer’s breaks your heart and it makes you mad, but it also inspired me to make a change and get as much information as I can about this disease.” ”