Friday, September 28, 2007

Hospices Become Testing Grounds


clipped from blogs.wsj.com

As more Americans spend their final days in hospices, drug makers and doctors are asking patients there to take part in tests of new medicines.

But the research faces considerable logistical and ethical challenges, this morning’s WSJ reports.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Alzheimer's Disease Could Be A Third Form Of Diabetes


alzheimer's dibetes
This article intrigues me. I have been thinking about diabetes for sometime in relation to my mother. My grandmother likely died from diabetes and my sister is a diabetic. My mother's sugar readings are very high but none of her doctor's has ever suggested doing anything about it. This fits under the "she's old" model of medicine now being practiced.

The article is worth reading and considering.

Brain Activity Might Point to Early Alzheimer's



A team at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the brains of 13 patients with mild Alzheimer's disease, 34 patients with mild cognitive impairment, and 28 healthy people (averaging about 73 years of age) as they did a memory task.

A specific pattern of brain activity could be a sign of early Alzheimer's disease, U.S. researchers report.

They noted that as new treatments for Alzheimer's become available, spotting the disease early will become critical.

A team at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the brains of 13 patients with mild Alzheimer's disease, 34 patients with mild cognitive impairment, and 28 healthy people (averaging about 73 years of age) as they did a memory task.

Participants with mild Alzheimer's and mild cognitive impairment showed impaired activity in the medial temporal lobe (MTL), an area of the brain associated with episodic memory that normally turns on during a memory task. Previous research had found that structural changes in the MTL are among the earliest known brain changes in people with Alzheimer's disease.

More surprisingly, the researchers found impaired deactivation in the posteromedial cortex (PMC), a brain area involved in personal memory that's usually suppressed during a memory task. The degree of PMC deactivation was closely related to the level of a patient's memory impairment and significantly correlated with their neuropsychological testing scores.

"In other words, the brain not only loses its ability to turn on in certain regions, but also loses its ability to turn off in other regions, and the latter may be a more sensitive marker. These findings give us insight into how the brain's memory networks break down, remodel and finally fail as memory impairment ensues," study lead author Dr. Jeffrey R. Petrella, an associate professor of radiology at Duke, said in a prepared statement.

He said the findings "implicate a potential functional, rather than structural, brain maker -- separate from atrophy -- that may help enhance diagnosis and treatment monitoring of Alzheimer's patients."

The study is published in the October issue of the journal Radiology.

More information

The Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation has more about Alzheimer's diagnosis.

Source Health Day, U.S. News
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Bob DeMarco is the editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. Bob has written more than 1,200 articles with more than 9,000 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Testing of Alzheimer’s Drugs Remains a Puzzle


clipped from blogs.wsj.com

Alzheimer’s is a brutal disease, and it’s been brutally resistant to treatment.

There are plenty of experimental drugs in development now, but the drawn-out, inexorable decline for patients with the disease makes it tough for researchers to tease out whether a drug is having an effect. That’s especially true in the early, small trials of medicines that have just started on their journey out of the lab.

“Unless it’s a Lazarus drug, the only way to see the results is to do a Phase III study,” Peter Davies, an Alzheimer’s researcher at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said Monday in a briefing sponsored by New York City Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. As a result, he said, companies are forced to push potential drugs into late-stage trials that enroll more than 1,000 patients, last for years and cost millions. “It puts you in a huge gamble,” Davies said.

Davies and Rudolph Tanzi of Harvard were speakers at a meeting of the Alzheimer’s group last night.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Aricept & Severe Alzheimer's



The only thing I can say is Aricept definitely helps my mother. Is it a cure, NO!
clipped from www.google.com
A research study for people living in nursing homes with severe Alzheimer's disease showed those taking Aricept (Donepezil) improved slightly. But do minimal improvements mean that a medication used in the early and moderate stages of Alzheimer's should be used in the later stages of dementia?

Aricept & Severe Alzheimer's

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Unitedhealth to offer an Alzheimer's plan


This is important news and we will be following up on this story as it develops.
clipped from www.startribune.com

UnitedHealth Group Inc. said it will offer the first government-subsidized plan devoted to the care of patients with Alzheimer's disease and chronic dementia. Nurse-managers will customize plans for policyholders in the Phoenix, Ariz., area starting Jan. 1 as a first step toward offering the Alzheimer's program nationwide, the company said Monday. The policies will be funded by Medicare. UnitedHealth, based in Minnetonka, said the program is aimed at improving services for the estimated 5 million Americans suffering from Alzheimer's. Nurses serving as case managers will help members stay out of hospitals, said John Mach, chief executive officer of UnitedHealth's Evercare unit.

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Diagnosing Alzheimer's Disease In Earliest Stages: New Method


The proposed criteria are based on examining the structure and function of the brain using advanced brain imaging techniques as well as looking at spinal fluid for the imprint of the disease. Early detection will allow researchers to test vaccines that might be used preventively or to treat fully affected individuals, or other drug treatments that are directed at the earliest stages of the disease -- the best time to reduce symptoms.

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Alzheimer's disease a ticking time bomb


Ranjan Goel was a gregarious and fun-loving person, a top executive with an MNC
till recently. Without any warning, life did a turnabout. He started forgetting
things, got agitated easily and little-by-little began withdrawing into a shell.
His family was worried. A couple of visits to psychiatrists and neurologists
confirmed his wife's worst fears — Goel had developed Alzheimer's disease. Now,
four years later, as he sits with a vacant look with his wife and children,
their animated conversation has no effect on him. "It's heart-wrenching to watch
him in this state," says his wife Indu, fighting back tears. "Every day is a
battle for us." <BR>
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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

More Drug Side Effects, or Just More Reports of Problems?


clipped from blogs.wsj.com

Reports of serious injuries and deaths that may have been caused by prescription drugs skyrocketed between 1998 and 2005, says a paper published today in the Archives of Internal Medicine. But it’s unclear if the jump in reports to FDA reflects a true increase in the number of people who suffered serious side effects.

First, the numbers. In 1998, the FDA received 34,966 reports of serious adverse events, including 5,519 reports of deaths, possibly related to the use of prescription drugs. By 2005, those figures more than doubled, to 89,842 events including 15,107 deaths.

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Sunday, September 9, 2007

Silent Seizures May Cause Alzheimer's Dementia


The surprising finding indicates that antiseizure medications given to epilepsy patients may also help lower or even reverse cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease, a treatment option that could be available relatively quickly.

Source Scientific America

Study identifies nonconvulsive seizures as potential culprit. Already available drugs may stave off and even reverse debilitating symptoms

By Nikhil Swaminathan

The families of the five million Alzheimer's disease sufferers in the U.S. are all too familiar with the erratic neurodegenerative disorder. "Mom seemed almost like herself this morning and then she drifted away form me," recounts senior investigator Lennart Mucke, describing a conversation with a patient's daughters.
The root of these heart-wrenching fluctuations between cognizance and confusion has eluded scientists for years. But Mucke, director of the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease at the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues believe they may finally have pinpointed the cause of these puzzling personality twists as well as other cognitive deficits associated with Alzheimer's: petite mal (nonconvulsive) seizures similar to those exhibited in some types of epilepsy.

They reached this conclusion during studies of mice engineered to build up protein fragments in their brains known to cause the disease. The animals had alternating stages of overexcitement and inhibition in several regions of their brains, seizures of activity that resulted in swift rewiring to dampen the sudden surges.
"We were quite struck to find anatomical and pathological hallmarks of overexcitation" observed in epilepsy without the convulsive, physical reaction, says Mucke. "We would have thought that everything was shutting off."

The surprising finding indicates that antiseizure medications given to epilepsy patients may also help lower or even reverse cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease, a treatment option that could be available relatively quickly.

A protein fragment called amyloid-beta (Aβ) is known to aggregate and create plaque in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. Plaque hinders neuronal activity by gumming up synapses (spaces between cells through which chemical or electrical information is transmitted), eventually damaging nerve cell branches and leading to neuronal death.

In the current study, a collaborative team of researchers at the Gladstone Institute and the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, created a strain of mice that overproduces a precursor of Aβ known as amyloid precursor protein. Five to six months after birth, as plaque built up, these animals showed learning and memory deficits illustrated by their difficulty navigating mazes. During autopsies, researchers observed that rewiring had occurred in the late subjects' brains.

"What tipped us off to the excitation was actual anatomical rewiring in the hippocampus—or learning centers—that looked like the cells wanted to protect themselves from overexcitation," Mucke says.

Using electroencephalography (EEG)—in which electrodes placed in the brain measure neural activity—the team saw a sharp wave of action in the mouse brains from the hippocampus in the midbrain to the neocortex (the outermost brain layer). The whole network of nerve cells seemed to activate simultaneously and synchronously. "The hippocampus then clamps down because it doesn't want to receive all that excitation, so it clamps down its portals by engaging its inhibitory cells," Mucke says. "In the process, they probably disable some normal, excitatory functions; part of this inhibitory rewiring that happens probably accounts for the fact that there's no physical seizure activity."

He says it is no doubt difficult for the neurons to do their usual jobs in the face of the sudden bursts of activity and overcompensation to correct them. Given that the hippocampus is associated with episodic memory, he says that this may account for some of the cognitive deficits of Alzheimer's, including the spells of confusion. "I could imagine that this abnormal activity may go on throughout the course of the disease,'' Mucke notes, "and not just mess up cognition but contribute to the neurodegenerative process."





The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People with Alzheimer Disease and Memory Loss in Later Life


Monday, September 3, 2007

Alzheimer's Patients now being implanted with Microchip


The chip is being positioned by VeriChip as a critical part of emergency medicine. The majority of early adopters are interested in the chip for wandering and identification of lost loved one’s. Opponents are concerned about privacy.

+Alzheimer's Reading Room

Florida-based VeriChip has developed an FDA-approved microchip that can be implanted in an Alzheimer's patient's arm.

The VeriChip contains a unique 16-digit number which allows for wearer identification and immediate access to that persons medical record.

The medical information is contained in a database managed by VeriChip and could be accessed from a hospital emergency room. The microchip about the size of a grain of rice must be scanned in order for the information to become available.

The chip is being positioned by VeriChip as a critical part of emergency medicine. It is obvious that the majority of early adopters are interested in the chip for wandering and identification of lost loved one’s.