New Alzheimer’s treatment fully restores memory function

New Alzheimer’s treatment fully restores memory function

Of the mice that received the treatment, 75 percent got their memory function back.

BEC CREW
18 MAR 2015

Australian researchers have come up with a non-invasive ultrasound technology that clears the brain of neurotoxic amyloid plaques – structures that are responsible for memory loss and a decline in cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients.

If a person has Alzheimer’s disease, it’s usually the result of a build-up of two types of lesions – amyloid plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles. Amyloid plaquessit between the neurons and end up as dense clusters of beta-amyloid molecules, a sticky type of protein that clumps together and forms plaques.

Neurofibrillary tangles are found inside the neurons of the brain, and they’re caused by defective tau proteins that clump up into a thick, insoluble mass. This causes tiny filaments called microtubules to get all twisted, which disrupts the transportation of essential materials such as nutrients and organelles along them, just like when you twist up the vacuum cleaner tube.

As we don’t have any kind of vaccine or preventative measure for Alzheimer’s – a disease that affects 343,000 people in Australia, and 50 million worldwide – it’s been a race to figure out how best to treat it, starting with how to clear the build-up of defective beta-amyloid and tau proteins from a patient’s brain. Now a team from the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) at the University of Queensland have come up with a pretty promising solution for removing the former.

Publishing in Science Translational Medicine, the team describes the technique as using a particular type of ultrasound called a focused therapeutic ultrasound, which non-invasively beams sound waves into the brain tissue. By oscillating super-fast, these sound waves are able to gently open up the blood-brain barrier, which is a layer that protects the brain against bacteria, and stimulate the brain’s microglial cells to activate. Microglila cells are basically waste-removal cells, so they’re able to clear out the toxic beta-amyloid clumps that are responsible for the worst symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

The team reports fully restoring the memory function of 75 percent of the mice they tested it on, with zero damage to the surrounding brain tissue. They found that the treated mice displayed improved performance in three memory tasks – a maze, a test to get them to recognise new objects, and one to get them to remember the places they should avoid.

“We’re extremely excited by this innovation of treating Alzheimer’s without using drug therapeutics,” one of the team, Jürgen Götz, said in a press release. “The word ‘breakthrough’ is often misused, but in this case I think this really does fundamentally change our understanding of how to treat this disease, and I foresee a great future for this approach.”

The team says they’re planning on starting trials with higher animal models, such as sheep, and hope to get their human trials underway in 2017.

You can hear an ABC radio interview with the team here.

Advertisements

7 Foods That Reduce Your Alzheimer’s Risk

7 Foods That Reduce Your Alzheimer’s Risk

2013-02-21-grandparentslogo.jpg  |  Posted: 02/23/2013 7:54 am EST  |  Updated: 02/23/2013 7:54 am EST

Alzheimers Prevention
SPECIAL FROM Grandparents.com

Keep Your Brain Healthy

The best thing you can do to keep your brain working the way you want it to: exercise, and eat right. “Nutrition is very, very important to brain health,” says Paul Nussbaum, Ph.D., a clinical neuropsychologist and member of scientific advisory board for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. “Surprisingly, the brain is made up of 60% fat–it’s the fattest part of our body–and that fat insulates the nerve tracks. Without that fat we slow down mentally,” Dr. Nussbaum says.

The crucial thing to know: The kinds of fats and foods you eat, can have a real impact on the health of your brain. Trans fats and sugar aren’t great for your brain health. What foods are good and can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s? Consider eating these good-for-your-brain foods:

1. Walnuts (and almonds, pecans, hazelnuts)

Walnuts might be small in size, but they pack a big nutritional punch. They are filled with Omega-3 fatty acids, the good kind of fat your brain needs. A study from the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities found that mice given a diet including walnuts showed improvement in memory and motor coordination. Walnuts also contain vitamin E and flavonoids, which can help protect the brain.

2. Salmon (and mackerel, sardines, other fatty fish)

Also high in Omega-3s, fatty fish like salmon can lower blood levels of beta-amyloid, a protein thought to play a role in Alzheimer’s. A Columbia University study found that the more Omega-3 fatty acids a person eats, the lower their blood beta-amyloid levels. Dr. Nussbaum suggests eating 8 oz. of fish per week–fresh fish is best, but you can also talk to your doctor about taking a fish oil supplement.

3. Berries

“Antioxidants are like taking out the broom in the spring and sweeping the garage,” Dr. Nussbaum says. “Antioxidants are the body’s broom.” Berries contain polyphenols, a type of antioxidant which helps stop inflammation and allows brain cells to work better. A Tufts University study found that berries can reverse slow-downs in the brain’s ability to process information.

“You can’t go wrong if a food has the word ‘berry’ in the name,” says Dr. Nussbaum. “Strawberries, blueberries, cranberries– they’re all good for your brain.”

4. Spinach (and kale, other leafy greens)

Full of antioxidants and fiber, leafy greens should be a diet staple. In a national study, women in their 60s who ate more leafy vegetables over time did better than their non-greens-eating counterparts on memory, verbal, and other tests. And new studies show that high levels of vitamin C, which is found in spinach, may help with dementia prevention.

5. Turmeric

Break out the curry! A host of studies have shown that turmeric, the spice used in curries, and its main active component curcumin, can help prevent Alzheimer’s. In one such study, researchers from UCLA found that vitamin D3, taken with curcumin, may help the immune system to get rid of the amino acids that form the plaque in the brain that’s associated with Alzheimer’s Disease. So the next time you cook, incorporate this healthy spice.

6. Coffee

Now you don’t have to feel guilty about pouring yourself another cup. Researchers from the University of South Florida and University of Miami found that people older than 65 who drank three cups of coffee a day (i.e. had higher blood levels of caffeine) developed Alzheimer’s disease two to four years later than their counterparts with lower caffeine levels, and that caffeine had a positive impact even in older adults who were already showing early signs of Alzheimer’s.

7. Chocolate

If you haven’t already switched from milk chocolate to dark, now you have one more reason to. Compelling research already shows that dark chocolate, which contains flavonoids (a plant compound that helps with the body’s circulation), can help combat heart disease, but flavonoids may also help slow down the effects of dementia. In an Italian study, older adults who had mild symptoms of dementia drank cocoa with high, medium and low amounts of flavonoids. Those who consumed high amounts outperformed those who consumed low doses on cognitive tests.

And a study is currently underway by the National Institute on Aging to see whether resveratrol, a compound found in chocolate, red wine, and grapes, can prevent dementia. One tip: A healthy choice is dark chocolate that has a 70% or higher cocoa content.

Tea Can Keep You Alert in Old Age

Drinking three cups of tea a day can keep you mentally alert in old age

  • Analysis of six different studies found drinking tea helped the brain to stay sharper
  • Scientists believe some compounds such as theanine could protect against Alzheimer’s

By FIONA MACRAE

PUBLISHED: 11:26 EST, 11 February 2013 | UPDATED: 20:55 EST, 11 February 2013

 

Brain boost: evidence linking a cuppa with a reduction in cognitive decline

It’s the national drink that millions of us turn to when we need a pick-me-up.

But tea does far more than just help to wake us up. Scientists say the traditional cuppa can keep the mind sharp into old age.

tea1

And the benefits of drinking as little as one to three cups a day in staving off mental decline are especially pronounced among women.

In one study, of almost 1,500 men and women in Singapore, drinking more than four cups a day cut the odds of memory failing by three-quarters.

Even just one to three cups of Ceylon tea a day had an effect, cutting the odds of cognitive decline by 43 per cent.

It is thought compounds in tea may protect against the poisons that ravage the brain in Alzheimer’s.

Possibilities include theanine, a plant chemical found only in tea and in mushrooms.

Experts in the US analysed several studies on the effect of caffeinated drinks on memory and mental alertness. The thousands of men and women who took part logged how often they drank tea or coffee and did a memory test that is used in the initial stages of diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease.

Up to ten years later, they resat the test and any fall in score was noted.

The brain stayed sharper in those who drank tea in all the studies that included the drink, the journal Advances in Nutrition reports.

A study which tracked 4,000 Americans for almost eight years suggested tea to be of particular benefit to women.

The University of California researchers who reviewed the studies said the weaker results for coffee mean caffeine is unlikely to be responsible for the cognitive benefits.

Tea leaves: Some of the compounds in tea may provide protection against the poisons that ravage the brain in Alzheimer’s

Britons drink 165 million cups of tea every day  – making it more than twice as popular as coffee.

Jessica Smith of the Alzheimer’s Society said: ‘There is building evidence linking a cuppa and a reduction in cognitive decline.

Woman harvesting tea leaves

‘However, we are a long way from being able to say for sure a regular brew will reduce your risk of developing dementia.

‘The best way to reduce your risk is to eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly and not smoke.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2277023/Why-drinking-cups-tea-day-mentally-alert-old-age.html#ixzz2KeQ6Vy86
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Music Can Help Alzheimer’s Patients

‘Alive Inside’: New documentary shows how music can reawaken Alzheimer’s patients
Seniors with iPods regain their past after listening to their favorite music.
Wed, Apr 11 2012 at 2:33 PM
Alive Inside

Photo: Still from Alive Inside

It’s been said that music calms the savage beast, but the right music can also awaken someone who has, in effect, been slumbering.
The new documentary “Alive Inside” shows the transformative power of music as several elderly dementia patients are given iPods loaded with their favorite music. The previously unresponsive seniors quickly start to tap their toes, swing their hands, and, incredibly, start having long discussions about their passion for music and its role in their lives.
In the following clip from the film, a man named Henry — who normally sits quietly in his chair, hunched over, barely speaking — comes alive after listening to music. Asked about his favorite music, he starts talking about Cab Calloway, and even starts to sing some of his favorite songs:
Henry becomes especially impassioned when he is asked what music means to him. “It gives me the feeling of love, romance,” he says. “I figure right now the world needs to come into music. The Lord came to me and made me holy, I’m a holy man. So he give me these sounds.”
The film, produced and directed by Michael Rossato-Bennett, follows social worker Dan Cohen as he exposes more patients like Henry to music and watches them reawaken. Cohen is executive director for the non-profit organization Music & Memory, which collects and donates iPods to patients in nursing homes. The non-profit also provides information and resources for health-care workers seeking to establish music therapy programs for their patients.
World-famous neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks — best known as the author of the booksAwakenings, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Musicophilia — appears in the film. “Music imprints itself on the brain deeper than any other human experience,” Sacks says in the clip above. “Music evokes emotion and emotion can bring with it memory” and “brings back the feeling of life when nothing else can.”
The filmmakers have had an early trailer online for more than a year, but it has exploded in recent days, spreading around Facebook and the social news site Reddit. And it’s just in time: “Alive Inside” will have its world premiere April 18 at the Rubin Museum in New York City.