There are countless studies being conducted in the rush to find a way to better understand and prevent or cure Alzheimer’s disease. Even though 2014 is still young, the results of six studies have made headlines in the Alzheimer’s world so far this year. While these studies don’t provide any definitive answers to the Alzheimer’s question, each represents another step in acquiring the knowledge that will one day defeat the disease.
1. REST: A protein active during fetal brain development called RE1-Silencing Transcription factor or REST normally switches back on later in life to protect aging neurons from various stresses including the toxic effects of abnormal proteins. However, in people with Alzheimer's and mild cognitive impairment, the REST factor is absent from key brain regions. Can this protein be switched on with nutrition or drugs?
2. Sleep Deprivation: A new study out of Temple University's School of Medicine suggests chronic sleep disturbances could speed up the onset of Alzheimer's disease in older adults.
3. A blood test: Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center believe that a simple blood test could detect with 90 percent accuracy whether or not a healthy individual will develop Alzheimer's or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) within the next three years.
4. Women and Alzheimer’s: According to the 2014 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures report, a woman's estimated lifetime risk of developing Alzheimer's at age 65 is one in six, compared with nearly one in 11 for a man. Not only are women more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, they are also much more likely to be Alzheimer’s caregivers.
5. Iron and dementia: A study by Imperial College London researchers has found evidence that iron deficiency may increase stroke risk by making the blood stickier. Stroke in itself often has debilitating results, but it can be the foundation for vascular dementia, as well.
6. Vitamin E: Vitamin E has shown some promise of slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease during the early stages. The dose needed is considered too high for the general population to take routinely, however scientists may find that for some people the benefit would outweigh the risk.
These six studies are only a few of the new approaches that are undergoing further research. Volunteers are needed to move this work forward. Log on to the National Institute of Aging website for details if you are interested in playing a direct role in the fight against Alzheimer's.
Emling, S. (2014, March 20) Landmark Alzheimer's Study Pinpoints Protein That Protects Aging Brain. Huffinfton Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/19/alzheimers-research_n_4995098.html
(2014, March 16) Sleep Deprivation Could Speed Up The Onset Of Alzheimer's. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/19/sleep-deprivation-alzheimers_n_4992547.html?utm_hp_ref=fifty&ir=Fifty
(2014 March 10) Blood Test Could Predict Alzheimer's Years In Advance, Study Says. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/10/alzheimers-blood-test_n_4934955.html.
Moisse, K. (2014, March 19) Women Bear Brunt of Alzheimer’s Disease, Report Shows. ABC News. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2014/03/19/women-bear-brunt-of-alzheimers-disease-report-shows/
Claire L. Shovlin, et al (2014, February 19) Ischaemic Strokes in Patients with Pulmonary Arteriovenous Malformations and Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia: Associations with Iron Deficiency and Platelets. Retrieved from http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0088812
Searing, L. (2014, January 6) A daily high dose of Vitamin E may slow early Alzheimer’s disease. Washington Post.
Published On: March 28, 2014