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The Latest on Alzheimer’s Research – Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

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According to the CDC, up to 5.8 million people in the United States live with Alzheimer’s disease. Worldwide, the number is closer to 50 million.

If you aren’t already aware, June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness month, organized by the Alzheimer’s Association to spread awareness of the disease and fundraise for new research. It’s important to note that Alzheimer’s is still shrouded in a bit of mystery — researchers are actively working on learning more about the condition’s causes, mechanisms, progression, and potential treatments.

 

A number of recent studies have helped to shed light on the causes and potential treatments of Alzheimer’s. Here are a few recent ones worth mentioning:

One recent study from Australia recently discovered a new potential cause for the disease. It had already been known that age, family history, diet, and environmental factors all together affect a person’s risk for Alzheimer’s. The study found that exaggerated abundance in blood of potentially toxic fat-protein complexes can damage capillaries and leak into the brain, causing inflammation and brain cell death. These findings suggest explanations to long standing questions about the role of amyloid-beta in Alzheimer’s disease development.

“[Changes] in dietary behaviors and certain medications could potentially reduce blood concentration of these toxic fat-protein complexes, [subsequently] reducing the risk for Alzheimer’s or [slowing] down the disease progression,” said lead study author Dr. John Mamo, Ph.D.

Another study from the University of Leicester found a promising potential treatment called “absolutely spectacular” by researchers. The study delved into the protein that binds to brain cells and eventually kills them as a part of the disease’s progression.

It’s already known that Alzheimer’s patients exhibit amyloid beta protein forming ‘plaques’, which damage the brain. This new treatment targeted a form of the protein before it became attached.

 

Professor Mark Carr said using a vaccine or antibody to block the protein had worked well. A next step for this would be a clinical trial with a lot more patients to test for effectiveness, as well as any potential side effects.

On the diagnosis front, an exciting new study from Bath University looks like it might point to a way to diagnose Alzheimer’s earlier than ever. The researchers created a two-minute test that can measure people’s brain waves in response to a series of flashing images. With a current average age of diagnosis being 65 years, the researchers are saying they think they might be able to shave 5 years off that. Of course, catching the disease earlier means that any potential new treatments could be tried earlier and be more effective.

For more information and tips on caring for your elderly loved one suffering from dementia, explore our blog!

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