More Magazine Reports on Alzheimer's Research
Like many people who have a history of Alzheimer's disease in their family, I often scan various sources to learn about on-going research that may slow or stop this devastating disease. Recently, I received an e-mail newsletter from More magazine which included a link to two articles on promising research.
The first report is dedicated to studies being conducted by Dr. Katherine Tucker, an epidemiologist at Tufts University's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. Dr. Tucker's work in nutrigenomics is trying to identify how individual genetic dispositions affect the way the human body uses nutrients in food. Suggesting that most nutritional advice is based on the average person, she theorizes that a more customized approach may at some point allow us to tailor our diets to our genetics. Thus, we may be able to choose foods based not only on the diseases that we're genetically predisposed to have, but also based on how our body will metabolize a particular food's nutrients.
This may mean that I eventually might be able to find out how my body metabolizes fish oil (for instance), which is often suggested as having an impact on brain health; if the preventative nature of fish oil is found to be lacking for me, I can focus my diet on other "super foods" that would have a more beneficial impact.
The second report describes a cellular cleanup mechanism being researched by Dr. Kim Finley, staff scientist at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Dr. Finley found that when these mechanisms were maintained in the brains of aging fruit flies, the flies' lives increased by an average of 55 percent and their health was maintained. Dr. Finley theorizes that this mechanism - called autophagy -- naturally slows down as we age, resulting in an excessive amount of damaged proteins that contribute to the death of brain cells. She is searching for a drug that will extend this mechanism in humans and, thus, potentially slow the cognitive decline caused by dementias.
It's good to see the various types of research that are being undertaken. I'm pleased to see that some of the research that is featured focuses on proactive measures (such as diet), while other research is striving to find ways to slow or stop the disease.