6 Advances in Alzheimer's Research
Carol Bradley Bursack, Minding Our Elders | Apr 3rd 2014 Feb 22nd 2017
Numerous studies are being conducted to find a way to better understand and prevent or cure Alzheimer’s disease. Already this year, six studies have made headlines in the Alzheimer’s world. While this research doesn’t provide definitive answers, each represents another step in acquiring knowledge.
Missing brain proteins
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 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?
A new study from Temple University’s School of Medicine suggests chronic sleep disturbances could speed up the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in older adults.
A blood test
Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center believe that a simple blood test could detect, with 90 percent accuracy, whether a healthy individual will develop Alzheimer’s or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) within the next three years.
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.
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.
Vitamin E has shown some promise in slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease during its early stages. The dose needed is considered too high for the general population to take routinely, but scientists may find that for some people, the benefit would outweigh the risk.
These six studies are only a few of the areas related to Alzheimer’s ressearch. 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.