Fern plant contains anti-Alzheimers compounds

Medicinal plants have long been valued for their role in treating numerous diseases. Yet pinpointing the exact molecules from an array of compounds that comprise the majority of plant species has proved quite difficult. University of Toyama researchers in Japan have created a means of isolating and identifying the important active compounds within plant medicines. Their methodology has been published in Frontiers in Pharmacology. The project was spearheaded by University of Toyama associate professor of neuropharmacology Chihiro Tohda, Ph.D.

How they found the evidence
The research group used a new technique to identify numerous active compounds from a traditional plant medicine known as Drynaria rhizome. These compounds boost memory and decrease disease characteristics. Although the work was performed on a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease not humans.

Scientists usually screen plant medicines with lab experiments over and over to determine if specific compounds display an effect on cells raised in vitro. If a compound displays a positive effect in the cells or test tubes, it has the potential to be used in the form of a drug. Such compounds are subsequently tested in animals. Yet this is a painstaking process that does not take into account the alterations that occur when drugs enter the body. As an example, enzymes within the blood and liver metabolize drugs into several forms referred to as metabolites. Certain areas of the body like the brain aren’t easily accessible by most drugs. Only a handful of drugs or their metabolites can access such tissues. Dr. Tohda’s group developed more efficient methods to pinpoint authentic active plant compounds to take such factors into account.

The research team made use of mice with a genetic mutation that acted as an Alzheimer’s disease model. This mutation provided mice with characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease such as limited memory and an abundance of specific proteins within the brain like tau and amyloid proteins.
Findings
The research team determined Drynaria rhizome enhances memory function and facilitates AD pathologies in mice. Biochemical analysis allowed for the identification of bioeffective metabolites like glucuronides and naringenin that are transmitted to the brain. The research group combined immunoprecipitation-liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry analysis with drug affinity responsive target stability to pinpoint the collapsin response mediator protein 2 (CRMP2) protein as a naringenin target.

It was determined the plant extract decreased memory impairments as well as the level of tau and amyloid proteins within the brains of mice. The team studied the mouse brain tissues five hours following treatment with the extract. It was determined three plant compounds made it to the brain: two naringenin metabolites and naringenin.
When mice were treated with pure naringenin, it was found that the same boosts in memory deficits and decreased tau and amyloid proteins occurred. This is a sign that naringenin and its associated metabolites are the active compounds in the plant. The research team also found a protein referred to as CRMP2, that naringenin binds within neurons, spurs growth. This might be the mechanism through which naringenin improves the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

A Look at the Future
The research group hopes its new technique will be used to identify additional treatments. They will apply the method to discover new drugs for an array of diseases ranging from depression to sarcopenia and even spinal cord injuries. In summary, the findings show that the biochemical analysis combined with pharmacological methods described above prove useful in the quest to identify new targets for Alzheimer’s disease intervention.

Low cost amino acid that protects the brain from ageing

New discoveries are highlighting the roles that a low-cost amino acid,  taurine, plays in helping to preserve the human mind. The importance of maintaining critical concentrations of taurine, as we age is being recognised by specialists in cognitive medicine. In particular how it protects against environmental pollution. 1,2
Taurine is one of the most abundant amino acids in our bodies. It plays special roles in the brain, where it meets many of the criteria for being a neurotransmitter (a molecule that transmits signals between brain cells).3,4Its role in normal brain development is already established.5-7

It is thought that taurine:
•Protects brain cells against environmental toxins including lead and organic pesticides8
•Prevents dysfunction of mitochondria within brain cells, thereby sustaining energy levels9,10
•Protects brain cells against excitotoxicity, the chemically stressful effects of overstimulated brain cells9
•Enhances the inhibitory systems driven by the “relaxing” neurotransmitter GABA, which directly opposes excitotoxic effects11
•Cooperates with other neurotransmitters to promote induction of long-term potentiation, which is the neurological process by which memories are formed and retained during learning2,12
•Reduces brain inflammatory processes that are active in production of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases13
•Stimulates proliferation and new neuron formation to sustain learning and memory14-16
•Protects brain cells against destruction following a stroke17,18
•Attenuates damage caused by beta amyloid protein, a major contributing factor in Alzheimer’s disease10,19

Protects the adult brain as well as the developing brain by slowing down ageing and also again environmental toxins,  increasingly recognised as factors in adult neurodegenerative disorders including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.20-23

Taurine protects against environmental poisons

A recent study showed that rats exposed to either a dangerous pesticide called CPF, lead acetate, or both toxins, showed biochemical damage leading to visible degeneration of brain tissue. When the animals were cotreated with taurine, those changes were prevented.8

These findings may have increased urgency as Americans discover just how our public infrastructure has failed to protect us against lead and other toxins in our water supplies.24

Taurine’s multiple mechanisms of action fight brain aging in other important ways, particularly by protecting the brain against internal age-accelerating forces.

For decades, scientists believed that adult brain cells could not reproduce, nor could new brain cells be generated afresh. Studies with taurine are turning that dogma on its head.

New brain cell growth was demonstrated in an exciting study released in 2015. Swiss scientists discovered that feeding middle-aged mice taurine could trigger rapid growth in populations of stem cells in the brain and greatly promote their subsequent differentiation into functioning adult brain cells.25 This effect had previously been shown in studies of cultured adult-mouse brain stem cells.14 And another 2015 study demonstrated that human-brain stem cells in culture underwent the same type of proliferation and specialization demonstrated in the animal studies.16

Together, these studies mean that humans are likely to be able to stimulate new brain cell development, and foster rapid synaptic connections between them with taurine.

Neurodegenerative diseases rob aging adults of memory, function, and dignity. Taurine has significant favorable impact on the malformed and toxic proteins that accumulate in the aging brain, leading to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Taurine can prevent damage wrought on brain cells by the malformed Alzheimer’s-related protein called beta amyloid.10 That mechanism may have been at work in a recent mouse model study of Alzheimer’s, in which six weeks of taurine added to drinking water rescued mice from developing cognitive deficits. In this study taurine supplementation restored cognitive function to that of age-matched normal mice.19

Elevated blood glucose and insulin resistance severely damage the brain. Some researchers now refer to Alzheimer’s as “type III diabetes.”26 In 2015, a study showed that taurine supplementation in mice could increase brain insulin receptors, an effect that might prove to be protective against the disease.27

Ischemic strokes are the result of an abrupt reduction in blood flow to specific brain regions. Strokes not only cause immediate symptoms, but also contribute to accelerated brain aging over the longer term.28,29 Once again, a role for taurine supplementation is evident.

Taurine appears to protect brain cells from the oxidative stress induced during a stroke, and to slow subsequent brain cell death.9,18 Chronic cellular destruction contributes to neurological problems in stroke survivors, so preventing it is an important approach to mitigating stroke damage. A mouse study has shown that adding taurine to another emerging stroke drug improved performance on neurological tests, while the drug alone was ineffective.18
Brains age for many reasons. Chronic toxin exposures, elevated blood sugar, accumulations of abnormal proteins and circulatory disruptions are known to accelerate brain aging.

Taurine is proving to have significant brain age-decelerating effects. Most recently, it has been shown to be protective against toxic exposures including lead and pesticides. It also inhibits beta amyloid formation associated with Alzheimer’s and helps regulate the brain’s control of glucose. Taurine also shows evidence of protection against the cognitive deficits induced by stroke.

It has also been reported that this amino acid has helped grow new brain cells.

References

  1. Menzie J, Pan C, Prentice H, et al. Taurine and central nervous system disorders. Amino Acids. 2014;46(1):31-46.
  2. Suarez LM, Munoz MD, Martin Del Rio R, et al. Taurine content in different brain structures during ageing: effect on hippocampal synaptic plasticity. Amino Acids. 2016;48(5):1199-208.
  3. Ripps H, Shen W. Review: taurine: a “very essential” amino acid. Mol Vis. 2012;18:2673-86.
  4. Iio W, Matsukawa N, Tsukahara T, et al. The effects of oral taurine administration on behavior and hippocampal signal transduction in rats. Amino Acids. 2012;43(5):2037-46.
  5. Shivaraj MC, Marcy G, Low G, et al. Taurine induces proliferation of neural stem cells and synapse development in the developing mouse brain. PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e42935.
  6. Liu J, Liu Y, Wang XF, et al. Antenatal taurine supplementation improves cerebral neurogenesis in fetal rats with intrauterine growth restriction through the PKA-CREB signal pathway. Nutr Neurosci. 2013;16(6):282-7.
  7. Li F, Teng HY, Liu J, et al. Antenatal taurine supplementation increases taurine content in intrauterine growth restricted fetal rat brain tissue. Metab Brain Dis. 2014;29(3):867-71.
  8. Akande MG, Aliu YO, Ambali SF, et al. Taurine mitigates cognitive impairment induced by chronic co-exposure of male Wistar rats to chlorpyrifos and lead acetate. Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 2014;37(1):315-25.
  9. Kumari N, Prentice H, Wu JY. Taurine and its neuroprotective role. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2013;775:19-27.
  10. Sun Q, Hu H, Wang W, et al. Taurine attenuates amyloid beta 1-42-induced mitochondrial dysfunction by activating of SIRT1 in SK-N-SH cells. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2014;447(3):485-9.
  11. El Idrissi A, Shen CH, L’Amoreaux W J. Neuroprotective role of taurine during aging. Amino Acids. 2013;45(4):735-50.
  12. Suarez LM, Bustamante J, Orensanz LM, et al. Cooperation of taurine uptake and dopamine D1 receptor activation facilitates the induction of protein synthesis-dependent late LTP. Neuropharmacology. 2014;79:101-11.
  13. Ward RJ, Dexter DT, Crichton RR. Ageing, neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration. Front Biosci (Schol Ed). 2015;7:189-204.
  14. Hernandez-Benitez R, Ramos-Mandujano G, Pasantes-Morales H. Taurine stimulates proliferation and promotes neurogenesis of mouse adult cultured neural stem/progenitor cells. Stem Cell Res. 2012;9(1):24-34.
  15. Hernandez-Benitez R, Vangipuram SD, Ramos-Mandujano G, et al. Taurine enhances the growth of neural precursors derived from fetal human brain and promotes neuronal specification. Dev Neurosci. 2013;35(1):40-9.
  16. Pasantes-Morales H, Ramos-Mandujano G, Hernandez-Benitez R. Taurine enhances proliferation and promotes neuronal specification of murine and human neural stem/progenitor cells. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2015;803:457-72.
  17. Chen PC, Pan C, Gharibani PM, et al. Taurine exerts robust protection against hypoxia and oxygen/glucose deprivation in human neuroblastoma cell culture. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2013;775:167-75.
  18. Gharibani P, Modi J, Menzie J, et al. Comparison between single and combined post-treatment with S-Methyl-N,N-diethylthiolcarbamate sulfoxide and taurine following transient focal cerebral ischemia in rat brain. Neuroscience. 2015;300:460-73.
  19. Kim HY, Kim HV, Yoon JH, et al. Taurine in drinking water recovers learning and memory in the adult APP/PS1 mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Sci Rep. 2014;4:7467.
  20. Goldman SM. Environmental toxins and Parkinson’s disease. Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 2014;54:141-64.
  21. Campdelacreu J. Parkinson disease and Alzheimer disease: environmental risk factors. Neurologia. 2014;29(9):541-9.
  22. Nakamura T, Tu S, Akhtar MW, et al. Aberrant protein s-nitrosylation in neurodegenerative diseases. Neuron. 2013;78(4):596-614.
  23. L’Episcopo F, Tirolo C, Testa N, et al. Aging-induced Nrf2-ARE pathway disruption in the subventricular zone drives neurogenic impairment in parkinsonian mice via PI3K-Wnt/beta-catenin dysregulation. J Neurosci. 2013;33(4):1462-85.
  24. Bellinger DC. Lead Contamination in Flint–An Abject Failure to Protect Public Health. N Engl J Med. 2016;374(12):1101-3.
  25. Gebara E, Udry F, Sultan S, et al. Taurine increases hippocampal neurogenesis in aging mice. Stem Cell Res. 2015;14(3):369-79.
  26. Li X, Song D, Leng SX. Link between type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease: from epidemiology to mechanism and treatment. Clin Interv Aging. 2015;10:549-60.
  27. El Idrissi A, Sidime F, Tantawy O, et al. Taurine supplementation induces hyperinsulinemia and neuronal hyperexcitability. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2015;803:415-23.
  28. Canugovi C, Misiak M, Ferrarelli LK, et al. The role of DNA repair in brain related disease pathology. DNA Repair (Amst). 2013;12(8):578-87.
  29. Seghier ML, Ramsden S, Lim L, et al. Gradual lesion expansion and brain shrinkage years after stroke. Stroke. 2014;45(3):877-9.

Curcumin may help repair brains of dementia sufferers

Curcumin, a derivative of the aromatic spice turmeric, may help repair the brains of people with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Curcumin

In recent scientific tests on rats, turmerones – botanical compounds in curcumin that enhance its absorption – promoted the proliferation of brain stem cells and their development into neurons.

It could now help scientists develop treatments for conditions in people in which brain cells are lost, including Alzheimer’s and stroke, according to an article in Stem Cell Research and Therapy.

Lead researcher Dr Adele Rueger, from the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine in Julich, Germany, said: “While several substances have been described to promote stem cell proliferation in the brain, fewer drugs additionally promote the differentiation of stem cells into neurons, which constitutes a major goal in regenerative medicine.”

At certain concentrations, the turmeric compound boosted the proliferation of rat foetal NSCs by up to 80 per cent, and increased the speed at which they matured.

In living rats, injections of aromatic turmerone led to the expansion of two key brain regions, the subventricular zone (SVZ) and hippocampus.

Facts about curcumin

  • One of today’s most promising natural disease-fighting agents is curcumin. Derived from the curry spice turmeric, curcumin has been used for millennia to target disease and promote good health.
  • Most commercially available preparations of curcumin have very poor bioavailability, impairing their ability to confer life-sustaining properties.
  • Scientists have recently discovered a novel curcumin preparation with exceptional bioavailability. In a human study, this advanced curcumin preparation—termed BCM-95®—delivered up to seven times more curcumin to the bloodstream than a standard curcumin product. This increased bioavailability should greatly enhance curcumin’s benefits.
  • Curcumin promotes health by diverse mechanisms. Scientists have documented curcumin’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-microbial, neuroprotective, cancer-fighting, and immune-enhancing abilities.
  • Studies suggest that curcumin may help prevent or fight prostate, pancreatic, breast, and colon cancers.
  • Curcumin may help protect the brain against the devastating consequences of stroke and exposure to toxic heavy metals.
  • Individuals who consume more curcumin-rich curry are less likely to experience cognitive decline, suggesting curcumin could help protect the nervous system against aging. In laboratory and animal models, curcumin shows promise in preventing the pathological changes seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease sufferers.

Advanced Bio-Curcmin with Ginger & Turmerones contains BCM-95, a patented bioenhanced preparation of curcmin that has been shown to reach up to 7 times higher concentration in the blood that standard curcumin.

 

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What is dementia? The Alzheimer’s Society explains in this video:

Silver surfers suffer less from memory loss, reveals top medical expert

Using the internet and sending emails can be used to prevent memory loss and reduce the likelihood of dementia in the elderly, according to new medical research.

Dr Tom Stevens

Results of an eight-year study of around 6,500 50-90 year-olds reveal that those who regularly go online experience less mental decline compared to those who do not use the internet. The study, published in the Journal of Gerontology, reported a significant improvement in delayed recall over time intervals for those subjects who were frequent online users, highlighting the role played by the internet in preventing the degeneration of mental abilities in the elderly.

Ben Williams, Head of operations at Adblock Plus and Dr Tom Stevens, Consultant Psychiatrist at London Bridge Hospital argue the benefits of the internet in preventing mental decline and reducing the risks of social exclusion, whilst advising on the dangers to vulnerable groups in society from online scams and intrusions.

Dr Tom Stevens, Consultant Psychiatrist at London Bridge Hospital, comments on the impact of the internet in keeping older people mentally active: “People over the age of 65 must remember the phrase ‘use it or lose it’, and the internet is a good way to ensure that older people are still able to use their mental faculties.”

“The internet and information technology offers some of the best opportunities to challenge people of this age-group, as it provides a means of communication and convenience, and is something that they can take part in despite any disabilities they may have.”

Adblock Plus also encourages the move to widen internet access, but highlights the need to educate older and more vulnerable people about online dangers.

Advertising can be designed specifically to be intrusive, by blocking users’ viewing of pages and causing confusion for those less familiar with it. Older users are not only at a greater risk of being drawn into online scams, but are likely to suffer more from the intrusiveness of ads such as pop-ups and banners that obscure their view and make it harder for them to use the internet effectively.

Ben Williams comments: “Everyone in society – those both young and old – should be able to use the internet to stay in touch with others, for instance by sharing photos on social media with more distant family, and catching up with old friends. Any communication, whether it be face-to-face or digital, enables people to feel connected, and basic digital skills give people this opportunity.”

“However, we mustn’t forget that with more older people using the internet, they must be informed about the choices they have online. With no experience of online advertising, constant blinking banners and pop-up adverts could spoil the internet for them, making them think it is a tasteless and unmanageable jungle, and put them off the whole experience.”

“Plus, there are online risks that specifically target older users, such as phishing scams, or promotions of miraculous and discount medication, and low-cost insurance, and it is our responsibility to ensure that older people aren’t ignorant about these. Basic lessons in how to stay safe and not put yourself in danger of online scams and viruses is essential.

“Of course it is possible to use the internet and not fall prey to online advertising, for instance with the help of ad-blockers such as Adblock Plus. But, if we are to educate the elderly on these skills, we must ensure we don’t render them vulnerable in the process.”

Alcohol link to dementia warning

Older people are to be given a government health warning about the increased risk of dementia as a result of drinking.

The stop drinking advice will be given to middle-aged patients during the regular ‘MOT’ visits to their GP.

The role played by alcohol in increasing the risk of dementia, frailty and disability in ageing has been highlighted by recent research.
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The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is proposing that lifestyle advice should be included in NHS health checks to all patients aged between 40 and 74.

There is increasing medical evidence to suggest that even moderate drinking, within the current health guidelines, may be harmful to health.

NHS guidelines recommend men drink no more than three to four units daily and women only two or three.

Drinking traditional tea helps prevent memory loss

Drinking as little as one to three cups a day helps older people’s brain function, according to a new study from Singapore.
The positive effects of tea drinking were particularly beneficial to woman, the study of 1,500 men and women revealed. And drinking more than four cups a day cut the odds of memory failing by three-quarters.
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The study looked at the effects of Ceylon (Sri Lankan) tea and showed that just one to three cups of Ceylon tea a day had an effect, cutting the odds of cognitive decline by 43 per cent.
Anti-oxidant compounds in tea are thought to protect against the poisons that ravage the brain in Alzheimer’s.One plant chemical, theanine, is found only in tea and in mushrooms.
Experts in the US recently  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. They discovered that tea was more beneficial than coffee which has more caffeine.
In another 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.
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Gum disease a factor in ageing illnesses, new research reveals

Poor dental and oral care is putting millions of people in the UK at risk of health issues. New research has discovered all too many adults are unaware of just how important a healthy mouth is – leaving them vulnerable to gum problems, such as bleeding gums, tooth loss and even a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease. 
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The research was commissioned by the Simplyhealth Advisory Research Panel (ShARP) to find out more about the nation’s oral health habits and the different attitudes between genders. The panel is a body of independent experts set up to help communicate the latest intelligence on a variety of important health areas. They have been brought together by Simplyhealth – one of the UK’s leading healthcare providers. ShARP takes a closer look at the UK’s oral care habits.
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In the new study  by ShARP, a total of 2,000 people aged 25 to 65 across the UK were surveyed – 62% were female, 38% were male. The ShARP research found that:
The average time people spent brushing their teeth was two minutes and 13 seconds 
Half (50%) of respondents said they brushed for two minutes or less; one in 10 brushed for less than a minute
Nearly three quarters of those questioned (73%) said they only changed their toothbrush every six months or more.
Habits: Women vs. Men: 
Women were more likely than men (25% compared to 20%) to clean between their teeth to remove bacteria and debris every day, though more than half (54%) said they only cleaned between their teeth occasionally
Women were more likely to use dental floss than men, whilst men were more likely to use a toothpick than women
Nearly a third (30%) admitted they sometimes use a mouthwash instead of brushing – men were more likely to do this than women (39% compared to 25%) 
Women were more likely than men (83% compared to 69%) to say that it was important to remove bacteria from the mouth on a daily basis
Men were twice as likely as women to change their toothbrush just once a year (11% compared to 6.3%) 
Nearly half (45%) of all respondents said a day was the longest they had gone without brushing their teeth, however men were more likely than women to leave it longer between brushes – 19% admitted going without brushing for up to two days compared to 14% of women. One in 20 men went without brushing for up to four days compared to just 1% of females 
Men were more likely to blame partying and work for not brushing, while women were more likely to blame the delay on travelling on an aircraft
More than half of all respondents (59%) said they would refuse to lend their own toothbrush to anyone. Of the 41% who said they would lend out their brush, most (23%) said it would be to their partner, with just 5% saying they would lend their brush to their child.
Gum disease signs
Nearly two thirds (63%) admitted they had noticed blood in their spit at some time or other after brushing their teeth – a classic symptom of gum disease. Nearly four out of 10 (38%) said this was at least once a week, with 13% saying it was every day or almost every day. More than half (53%) thought blood in spit was considered a worrying sign and a greater number (60%) said they would be worried about their children leaving blood in their spit. Just under half (45%) correctly thought that blood in the spit or in the sink after brushing could be a sign of potential tooth loss later in life.
Health links: Mixed bag of knowledge
More than three quarters of those questioned (80%) agreed that there was a link between oral health and general health – men were far more likely than women (27% compared to 16%) to wrongly presume that there is no connection. Respondents showed a mixed bag of knowledge when it comes to the health conditions that poor oral health is linked with. Nearly half (42%) thought gum disease and tooth loss (42%) were linked with oral health issues, followed by heart disease (26%), diabetes (15%), cancer (14%), poor pregnancy outcomes (7%), osteoporosis (6%) and stroke (34%). In fact, all these conditions are linked with poor oral health. Three quarters of those polled said they would aim to brush their teeth better and take better care of their dental health if they knew for certain that poor oral health was associated with serious health conditions. 
However, men were more likely than women (27% compared to 22%) to refuse to change their current oral care regime even if they were aware of a health link.
Tooth loss
Men were less likely than women to care about the effect a person’s lost teeth had on their appearance and were more likely than women to say that lost teeth made no difference to them at all (16% compared to 11%). Men were far more likely than women to be unconcerned about losing teeth themselves in later life (51% compared to 31%).
Embarrassing moments
When it comes to the sorts of foods that are most likely to get lodged between the teeth and become annoying, bits of gristle from meat was named as the worst with more than a third (35%) of respondents complaining about the problem. This was followed by peanuts and other nuts (20%), vegetables such as spinach (11%), crisps (10%) and bread (6%).
Visiting the dentist
Half (50%) of the respondents questioned admitted the cost of going to the dentist has put them off visiting a dentist for a check-up or routine dental work – 15% said this was a common occurrence. When it comes to covering the cost of dental care, nearly two thirds (62%) said they would be happy to pay the equivalent cost of a newspaper a day to make sure their or their family’s dental health was secure. The vast majority (91%) felt it was important to have regular check-ups at the dentist, however 21% of women and 29% of men admitted they hadn’t visited a dentist in the last year for a check-up or any other work. 
About ShARP:
To help communicate the latest studies and intelligence on oral care matters and a variety of other important health areas, Simplyhealth – one of the UK’s leading healthcare providers – has launched a new information group. The new Simplyhealth Advisory Research Panel – ShARP – will become a leading source of information and data, helping to make more people feel better by exploring ground-breaking research and discussing the latest scientific and medical thinking.
The new Simplyhealth Advisory Research Panel – ShARP – will: 
provide independent and objective information about key health concerns;
provide experts for journalists and media on all aspects of health;
deliver breaking news on health issues and research that affect individuals and families.
ShARP is a panel of experts. They are:
Professor Robin Seymour, a periodontal expert
Dr Gill Jenkins, a practising GP with an interest in lifestyle health
Dr Catherine Hood, a women’s health expert
About Simplyhealth:
Simplyhealth is the UK’s biggest cash plan provider and a major player in the private health insurance and mobility markets. It now also includes Denplan, the UK’s largest provider of dental plans, which helps nearly two million people to access dental care and treatment. It’s perhaps no surprise that the company’s phrase is ‘in a world where so many people can’t be bothered, we’re proud to be the healthcare company that can.’
The company is proud of its 140-year tradition of excellence in healthcare service and its strong tradition of caring for customers as true individuals. The company aims to help people access affordable healthcare and in doing so deliver exceptional personal customer service. 
Simplyhealth has over three million customers and patients, serving nearly four million people, and is also a healthcare provider to 20,000 companies. While the company has changed and adapted over the years, its award-winning commitment to do the right thing by its customers has not. Simplyhealth is committed to its strongly held values and to supporting communities. With no shareholders, it only invests its profits into running the business for the good of its customers, or making donations to health-related charities with £1.6m given away last year.
The company has always complemented the NHS. Its cash plans help people with their everyday health, whether they use NHS or private practitioners. The private health insurance works alongside the NHS, and is often provided by companies as an employee benefit to help staff at times of ill health.
For more information about ShARP see:
www.shARPpanel.co.uk / 020 7052 8999
For more information about Simplyhealth see:
www.simplyhealth.co.uk
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Good fats help brain decline in older people, new study reveals

Tokyo: The decline of cognitive function in older people is less in those who take a combination supplement, containing, food fats, a new study from Japan has revealed.
The findings of a three year study that evaluated the effects of capsules containing 1,182 milligrams purified fish oils containing 290 milligrams eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 203 milligrams docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); 84 milligrams lycopene from tomato and 240 milligrams Ginkgo biloba extract.  The pill was given to 41 participants aged 65 and older,  daily for three years.
Salmon.jpgThe total control group consisted of 622 participants with no supplement intake or serious diseases. Tests of cognitive function, including attention, memory, language and reasoning skills, were administered at the beginning and end of the study. Blood samples collected at the initial examination were analyzed for apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype and other factors. 
The authors of the study said:  “An increasing number of studies in cell lines, targeted replacement rodents, and human volunteers indicate higher oxidative stress and a more pro-inflammatory state associated with the apolipoprotein E4 allele (APOE4).”
Although memory scores improved in both groups, the increase was larger in those who received the supplements compared to the controls. Language ability and attention declined in those who did not receive the supplements, while remaining stable in supplemented participants. When test scores were evaluated as a whole, a significant improvement occurred only in supplemented subjects. Improvement was noted in both supplemented APOE4 carriers and noncarriers; however, the benefit was greater in those positive for APOE4.
Mechanisms for EPA and DHA in maintaining cognitive function are well known, and include the fatty acids’ anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. However, although omega-3 fatty acids have an antioxidant effect, they are also subject to lipid peroxidation, therefore, combining them with compounds that have antioxidant properties such as lycopene could improve their benefits.
“When just one of these agents or nutrients is used by an elderly person, its effect on cognitive function is not enough to prevent aging decline, at least not with the usual dosage in human trial studies,” the authors remark. “When these agents or nutrients are used in combination, they may cover the vulnerability of other agents and synergistically potentiate their respective antioxidant properties, which might then be effective for the improvement of cognitive function. Additionally, this may decrease the oxidative stress associated with the E4 allele and improve cognitive function among APOE4 carriers.”

Move to create common diagnosis for Alzheimer’s

Brain with Alzheimers.jpgParis: Two studies to help establish an internationally consistent approach to detecting Alzheimer’s disease have been reported at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2011 in Paris.

 The research, focusing on biomarkers – telltale biological indicators of Alzheimer’s – could help standardise the detection of the disease and increase the accuracy of clinical trials by ensuring those most likely to benefit from drugs or preventions take part.
 
The first study examined the association between a well-established Alzheimer’s risk gene – APOE4 – age, and a hallmark protein in Alzheimer’s – amyloid – to test the consistency of the relationship across ethnic groups. Led by researchers from Japan, the study took data from three different national populations – the US, Australia and Japan – all three of which include people with Alzheimer’s, mild cognitive impairment and normal individuals.
 
The team evaluated the influence of the APOE4 risk gene and age on the build up of amyloid in the brain, measured by PET scans. Amongst the three populations, the researchers observed consistency in the way amyloid build-up was affected by the risk gene and age, showing the biomarkers to be consistent across different ethnic groups – crucial for a test to be internationally applicable.
 
A second study concentrated on the hippocampus, responsible for the formation of new memories and usually the first area of the brain to be affected by Alzheimer’s. MRI scans have become increasingly important in tracking shrinkage in this area of the brain, which can be useful for diagnosis and measuring disease progress.
 
Researchers in Italy have been examining and compiling the different approaches to MRI scanning used in worldwide dementia research to measuring volume changes in the hippocampus. The team’s next step is to review the different approaches and draw on the input of an international panel of experts to determine a common protocol.
 
Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at the UK‘s leading dementia research charity, Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “If we are to effectively test new treatments or preventions, we have to be able detect Alzheimer’s early to get people involved in trials who stand to benefit most. An approach to detection that works consistently across the world is crucial to the global effort to defeat dementia and work towards that goal is to be welcomed.
 
“Numbers or people living with dementia are spiralling towards a million in the UK alone; research is the only answer to defeating the condition. Investment across all areas of dementia research – diagnosis, prevention and treatment – is urgently needed”.
 
More Information about Alzheimer’s Research UK

• Alzheimer’s Research UK is the UK’s leading charity specialising in finding preventions, treatments and a cure for dementia

• To help us defeat dementia, donate today by visiting www.alzheimersresearchuk.org or calling 01223 843899

• We are currently supporting dementia research projects worth £17 million in leading Universities across the UK

• The Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) is the world’s largest conference of its kind, bringing together researchers from around the world to report and discuss groundbreaking research and information on the cause, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders

• Ref: Kenji Ishii, MD; et al. Age, APOE ε4, and Ethnic Effect on [C-11]PiB in Multi-national ADNI Studies – Direct Comparison of J-ADNI, US-ADNI and AIBL Data

• Ref: Giovanni Frisoni, MD; et al. Estimating the Impact of Differences among Protocols for Manual Hippocampal Segmentation on Alzheimer’s Disease-Related Atrophy: Preparatory Phase for a Harmonized Protocol.

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Can early-stage Alzheimer’s be detected in brain scans?

Alzheimers.jpgThining of the cerebral cortex, which can happen a decade or more before any symptoms of the debilitating disease, shows up in magnetic resonance scanning.This means more can be done to halt the progress of the disease because it has been spotted at an earlier stage when less damage has occured to the brain.

Current statistics reveal that One in three over-65s will die with dementia.And although there are no clinical tests available for early stage detection, brain shrinkage might indicate early changes in the brain and predict who might get the disease.

US researchers behind the new study say magnetic resonance (MR) scanning is not yet ready to use in diagnosing Alzheimer’s, but the findings bring the prospect closer.

Although existing drugs can slow progression of Alzheimer’s, there is no cure. For the study, researchers used MR scans in people in their 70s with no signs of Alzheimer’s.

They found the risk of developing  the illness was three times greater in those with the thinnest areas of the cerebral cortex area, which plays a key role in memory, compared with those who had above-average thickness. Those with most thinning of the brain also succumbed to the disease faster than people with average thickness, says a report in the medical journal Neurology.

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Campaign to cut doctor waiting times for Alzheimer’s patients launches

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London: A new campaign, titled Memory Problems?,is launched today by ex GMTV presenter, Fiona Phillips today to help people recognise the early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and distinguish these from the normal changes that occur with ageing.

The aim is to reduce the time it currently takes from possible symptoms being noticed in a potential sufferer to them seeing their doctor.

While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, diagnosing and starting treatments to manage the disease early can slow its progression.

Research reveals the vast majority of Alzheimer’s disease patients are initially brought to the doctor by a family member (93%).

But shockingly the average time from symptoms being noticed to making an appointment with a doctor is 43 weeks. And almost half (45%) of patients discussing Alzheimer’s disease with their doctors for the first time are already experiencing moderate symptoms.

Delays in seeing a doctor were blamed by patients and carers on wanting to ensure symptoms weren’t temporary (38%), thinking symptoms were a normal part of ageing (36%) and, tellingly, resistance from the patients themselves (33%), according to the research by the IMPACT 2009 Global Alzheimer’s Awareness Study.

At the heart of the campaign is a website, www.aboutmemoryproblems.com , that will help provide practical advice and tools to help anyone concerned about memory problems in a loved one. It includes two innovative animations – short educational films that bring to life some of the symptoms and behaviours that are early indicators of the disease and so prompt people to consult their doctor.

“Diagnosing dementia is often difficult, particularly in the early stages, but this is when it is most important”, says Professor Roy Jones from The Research Institute for the Care of Older People (RICE) Centre, Royal United Hospital, Bath, UK. “If we can diagnose and start managing Alzheimer’s disease early, we can help patients and their families cope better with the situation. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this devastating disease, but there are treatments that may slow the progression of symptoms and these should be prescribed at the time of diagnosis.”

Fiona Phillips mother died from Alzheimer’s. Her father is now suffering from the disease.

Figures from www.alzheimers.org.uk

There are currently 700,000 people with dementia in the UK. Two thirds are women. It is estimated that there will be over a million people with dementia by 2025.

60,000 deaths a year are directly attributable to dementia. Delaying the onset of dementia by 5 years would reduce deaths directly attributable to dementia by 30,000 a year.
The financial cost of dementia to the UK is estimated as over £17 billion a year.

ASK YOUR ANTI-AGEING HEALTH & BEAUTY QUESTIONS HERE

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Get answers from world-leading experts on anti-aging topics here – whether is about preventative healthcare, the latest rejuvenation treatments or the best spas and doctors…

Middle-aged smokers at increased risk of dementia

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New York: Smoking in middle age increases the risk of developing dementia by nearly 75%, a new study from the US claims.

IResearchers at Minnesota University found smokers aged between 46 and 70 were at least 70 per cent more likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s in later years than those who had never smoked.

The study, published in the medical magazine, the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, also revealed the links between ‘lifestyle-factor’ diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and dementia.

People with high blood pressure, for example, were 60 per cent more likely to develop dementia while people with diabetes had more than double the risk of the same disease.

Lead research Dr Alvaro Alonso, said: ‘Our results emphasise the importance of early lifestyle modification and risk factor treatment to prevent dementia.’

Vitamin D and curcumin could get rid of Alzheimer plaque

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Los Angeles: Vitamin D and curcumin could help rid the brain of Alzheimer’s plaques, according to scientists at the University of California Riverside and Los Angeles.

They have found that a combination of vitamin D3 and a synthetic form of curcumin could help remove amyloid beta from the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients. The research was published in the July, 2009 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Amyloid beta accumulates in the brain when the innate immune system fails to clear it. The substance forms the plaques that, along with neurofibrillary tangles, characterize Alzheimer’s disease. For their research, Dr Milan Fiala of UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and his associates tested the effects vitamin D and curcuminoids, which are synthetic forms of the compound curcumin, on white blood cells known as monocytes derived from nine men and women with Alzheimer’s disease, one man with mild cognitive impairment, and three control subjects. Monocytes are immune system cells that transform into macrophages which travel through the body to consume waste products, including amyloid beta.

The team found that vitamin D3 significantly stimulated phagocytosis and clearance of amyloid beta while protecting against programmed cell death. Specific curcuminoids increased amyloid beta clearance by enhancing its surface binding to macrophages.

Synthetic forms of curcumin were tested in the current experiments due to challenges with natural curcumin’s ability to absorb and remain stable. Nevertheless, previous research conducted by the team found that not all Alzheimer’s disease patients respond to curcuminoids.

“We hope that vitamin D3 and curcumin, both naturally occurring nutrients, may offer new preventive and treatment possibilities for Alzheimer’s disease,” stated Dr Fiala. “Since vitamin D and curcumin work differently with the immune system, we may find that a combination of the two or each used alone may be more effective — depending on the individual patient.”

Try the finest quality vitamin D at www.vitalityshopuk.com

8 out of 10 UK doctors criticise Alzheimer’s treatment

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London: Most doctors feel Alzheimer’s sufferers do not receive sufficient treatment, according to a new survey.

The IMPACT (Important Perspectives on Alzheimer’s Care & Treatment) study explored the views of 1800 people – physicians (GPs and specialists),1 Alzheimer’s carers,1 payors1 and the general public1 in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.

According to the new study presented at the 2009 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease (ICAD 2009), almost 8 out of 10 UK physicians (77 percent)1 consider Alzheimer’s disease to be undertreated in the UK.1 These perceptions reflect behaviours identified in earlier research by the Audit Commission for Local Authorities and the National Health Service which highlighted an uncertainty in diagnosing any form of dementia by GPs in the UK, with 40% of GPs reluctant to refer early for diagnosis.2

According to the study, supported by Eisai and Pfizer Inc, UK doctors feel the medical community hesitates in discussing the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease because of their uncertainty.1 Furthermore, 63% of responders from the general population, many of whom could be tomorrow’s carers, felt that most people would have difficulty identifying the early signs of the disease.1

“The National Dementia Strategy sets out a clear direction for dementia management and if adhered to closely, it could help the UK lead the way in Alzheimer’s disease care and management. Today’s survey findings suggest that although we are making progress, we still have a long way to go. Alzheimer’s disease needs to be tackled with the same force as the fight against cancer and we need to act now in order to halt this generational time bomb”, said Professor Roy Jones, Clinical Gerontologist and Geriatrician at The Research Institute for the Care of Older People, Bath, and Study Steering Committee Chair.

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia, affects nearly half a million people in the UK3 – a figure expected to double within twenty years.4 According to IMPACT, Alzheimer’s disease is the most feared disease after cancer in the general population,1 with physicians1 and carers1 being the only groups surveyed to fear it even more than cancer. In 2007, the annual cost of caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease was £11 billion,5 with dementia costing the UK economy over £17 billion a year,6 more than cancer, stroke and heart disease combined.5 Additionally in 2007, Alzheimer’s disease research received 3 percent of the funds spent on cancer, a disease that affects a similar number of people.5

While the study revealed that UK doctors face a number of barriers to early drug treatment,1 it also showed that according to physicians in the UK, the medical community is more likely to recommend third party support (e.g. patient organisations) after the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease than in France, Germany, Italy and Spain.1

Marc Wortmann, Executive Director of Alzheimer’s Disease International and member of the IMPACT Study Steering Committee, said, “It is reassuring to note that the benefits of support groups are clearly recognised by clinicians and hopefully experienced by carers and patients. We strongly support the tendency to refer to patient groups at diagnosis, as it is well known that seeking support improves the quality of life for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and eases the burden for the carer.”

About Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive and degenerative brain disease,7 is the most common type of dementia7 and affects more than six million Europeans.8 Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease may include increased forgetfulness, repeating or asking the same question frequently, and problems making decisions.9

These symptoms gradually affect a person’s cognition, behavior and everyday activities, some severe enough to have an impact on their work, social activities and family life.9 While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there are treatments to help slow the progression of the symptoms of the disease.10

About the IMPACT Study

The IMPACT study was conducted online within the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain and Germany by IPSOS on behalf of Eisai and Pfizer Inc between April 1 and May 1, 2009, among 500 physicians (including general practitioners and specialists), 250 AD carers, 50 payors and 1,000 members of the general population age 18 and over. Statistical differences are noted using a 90% confidence interval. A full methodology is available upon request.

About the IMPACT Study Steering Committee

The IMPACT study was developed and implemented with the oversight of an expert Steering Committee comprised of a variety of leading AD specialists, including geriatricians, neurologists, epidemiologists, primary care physicians and old-age psychiatrists from the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain and Germany. The Executive Director of Alzheimer Disease International (ADI) was also part of the committee. Most members of the IMPACT Study steering committee received honoraria for their participation. The Committee was supported by Eisai and Pfizer Inc.

About Eisai

Eisai is a research-based human health care (hhc) company that discovers, develops and markets products throughout the world. Eisai focuses its efforts in three therapeutic areas: Integrative Neuroscience including neuroscience, neurology and psychiatric medicine; Integrative Oncology including oncotherapy and supportive-care treatment and Vascular/Immunological Reaction which includes acute coronary syndrome, atherothrombotic disease, sepsis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and Crohn’s disease.

Through a global network of research facilities, manufacturing sites and marketing subsidiaries, Eisai actively participates in all aspects of the worldwide health care system. Globally, Eisai operates in five key regions: its home market of Japan, North America, China, Asia/Oceania/Middle East and Europe and employs more than 11,000 people worldwide.

About Pfizer

Pfizer Inc., founded in 1849, is dedicated to better health and greater access to health care for people and their valued animals. Every day, colleagues in more than 150 countries work to discover, develop, manufacture and deliver quality, safe and effective prescription medicines to patients.
In the UK, Pfizer has its European R&D headquarters at Sandwich and its UK business headquarters in Surrey, and is the major supplier of medicines to the NHS. Pfizer’s annual UK R&D investment is more than £550 million – more than £10 million a week.

1 Impact Study 2009: Global Alzheimer’s Awareness Study. Data on File Eisai, Pfizer Ltd

2 Audit Commission Update, Forget Me Not 2002: Developing Mental Health Services For Older People In England. Audit Commission February 2002.

3 Alzheimer’s Society Factsheet available at What is Alzheimer’s Disease?.
4 Alzheimer’s Society. Facts for the Media.
5 Alzheimer’s Research Trust. Annual Review 2007. February 1, 2007.
6 Alzheimer’s Research Trust. Dementia Statistics. Available at: Dementia Statistics.
7Alzheimer’s Association. 2008 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. Available at: Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.
8 Alzheimer Europe. Policy watch Europe Unites Against Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia In Europe: The Alzheimer Europe Magazine. December 2008;2: 9.
9 Alzheimer’s Association. 10 Signs of Alzheimer’s Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease
10 Alzheimer’s Association. Treatments Available at Treatments and Treatments

Married life helps prevent Alzheimer’s, says new report

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Stockholm: The mental engagement of marriage may protect against the brain disease, Alzheimier’s.

People who have a partner or are married in middle age are at half the risk of developing dementia as those who live alone, says a study.

Getting divorced and becoming widowed in mid-life raises the risk three-fold.

The study by researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm is one of the first to focus on marital status and the risk of dementia.

Previous research already suggests that social isolation or lack of personal contact carries an increased risk of dementia and mental decline.

An American study last year found significant links between feelings of loneliness and the chances of suffering Alzheimer’s.

In the latest study, researchers, led by Professor Miia Kivipelto, interviewed 2,000 people aged 50 on average and then again 21 years later, drawing conclusions from three quarters of those initially involved.

They found that middle-aged people who live alone have double the risk of dementia compared with those who are married or have a partner.
Those living alone in middle-age and who are widowed or divorced have the highest chances of developing dementia.

They are three times more likely to develop diseases such as Alzheimer’s, as are people who are single during middle-age.

People living with a partner or married in mid-life were less likely than the single, separated or widowed to have dementia in later life.

The experts suggested women overall had less chance of dementia than men, but called for more research into differences between the sexes in a report in the British Medical Journal.

The report said: ‘There is a substantial and independent association between marital status in mid-life and cognitive function later in life.’

The researchers speculate that the stress of becoming widowed may play a part in declining mental functions.

Precisely what the connection is between being alone and Alzheimer’s remains an unanswered question.

But experts suspect that constant social interaction between marriage partners may keep brain cells in better working order.

Other studies have revealed that the risk of dementia can be reduced by exercise, a healthy diet and a ‘rich social network’.

The best evidence is around eating a Mediterranean diet, exercising regularly, and getting your cholesterol and blood pressure checked regularly.

Scientists find sex gene risk for Alzheimer’s in certain females

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New York: A gene found on the X chromosome harbours the first sex-specific genetic variant linked to a greater susceptibility to Alzheimer’s, according to a new study.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida and Rochester, Minnesota showed that women who inherited the same variant of the gene, known as PCDH11X, from both parents were far more likely to develop the disease.

Among Alzheimer’s patients evaluated for the study, “the odds a women had two copies of the PCDH11X variant as opposed to no copies was nearly twice as high as for the control group,” the lead researcher, Steven Younkin, told AFP by email.

Both men and women with only a single copy were also slightly more likely to have Alzheimer’s. But only women have two X chromosomes, making them uniquely vulnerable to the impact of the double variant.

Men have one Y chromosome, and one X chromosome.

Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disorder of the brain characterised by forgetfulness, agitation and dementia. There is no known cure.

While many gene variants, or alleles, have been implicated in the onset of the disease, only one other — APOE 4 — has been shown to be a higher risk factor.

The findings, published in the journal Nature Genetics, do not necessarily mean that women as a whole are more prone to getting Alzheimer’s.

“There may be male-specific risk factors — genetic or environmental — that balance the increased risk in women from PCDH11X variant,” Younkin explained.

The researchers discovered the wayward string of DNA by scanning the entire genome of 844 patients and 1,255 healthy persons, looking for telltale markers that might point to a genetic culprit.

After identifying PCDH11X, they confirmed the “highly significant association” by repeating the gene tests on an even larger group of 1,547 patients, and a slightly smaller number of controls.

Follow up studies will investigate the exact mechanism by which the variant affects the nervous system in order to help diagnose the disease early on and develop suitable drugs, Younkin said.

Alzheimer’s is caused by a massive loss of cells in several regions of the brain, driven by a buildup of plaques of amyloid protein. The disease occurs most frequently in old age.

An estimated 37 million people worldwide live with dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease causing the majority of cases, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

With the ageing of populations, this figure is projected to increase rapidly over the next 20 years.

MRI scans can spot Alzheimer’s before symptoms

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Miami: MRI scans can be used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, even before the onset of symptoms of dementia, say researchers.

Alzheimer’s disease is currently diagnosed by a process of elimination as many other diseases cause similar symptoms, furthermore a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease cannot be confirmed until after the patient has died by autopsy.

However, results of a study by Ranjan Duara and colleagues at the Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC) has added to a growing body of evidence which suggests that MRI scans of the brain can be used to diagnose the neurodegenerative disease.

The researchers used a visual rating system to evaluate the extent of atrophy, or shrinkage, present on MRI scans in three parts of the medial temporal lobe of the brain which are vital for conscious memory.

They then compared the MRI brain scans of 260 people, which included people with probable Alzheimer’s disease, people with varying degrees of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and a control group of normal elderly with no symptoms of memory loss.

Results showed that by using the rating system they could accurately distinguish those with probable Alzheimer’s disease from those with MCI, and from those in the control group. Furthermore, the scans even enabled the researchers to identify brain atrophy in some participants who did not have symptoms of memory loss at the start of the study, but who went on to develop memory problems several years later.

Thus suggesting that MRI scans could enable doctors to identify those who will get Alzheimer’s long before they become symptomatic.

“This study demonstrates that MRI brain scans are accurate enough to be clinically useful, both in diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease itself at an early stage and in identifying people at risk of developing Alzheimer’s,” said Huntington Potter, PhD director of the Florida ADRC.

Stem stell advance voted scientific discovery of 2008

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London: A new advance in harvesting stem cells from adults which has the potential to cure many of the diseases of ageing, has been hailed as the scientific discovery of the year.

The advance, which involves turning back the clock on adult tissue and “reprogramming” it with the properties of stem cells, could lead to new treatments for diseases including Parkinson’s and diabetes.

The process allows for a potentially limitless numbers of “induced pluripotent stem” (IPS) cells to be made to order from a sick patient’s cells, meaning they do not risk rejection from the immune system when transplanted.

The technique does not require stem calls to be harvested from embryos, making it more acceptable to religious groups.

Dr Robert Coontz of the journal Science, which placed cellular reprogramming top of its list of the biggest scientific breakthroughs of 2008, said it “opened a new field of biology almost overnight and holds out hope of life-saving medical advances”.

Three teams working in Japan and the United States made major advances with the technique over the last 12 months.

“When Science’s writers and editors set out to pick this year’s biggest advances, we looked for research that answers major questions about how the universe works and that paves the way for future discoveries,” Dr Coontz said.

Runner-up was the first direct observation of planets in distant star systems, which required complex measures to blot out the light from their parent stars.

Other advances on the list included improved technology to map the genome – the human genetic code – and new calculations of the weight of the world.

Science’s Top 10 breakthroughs of 2008

1) Cellular reprogramming

2) Observation of planets around stars

3) Insights into “good” fat

4) Expanding the catalogue of cancer genes

5) Most detailed video of a developing embryo

6) Faster, cheaper genome sequencing

7) Watching proteins at work

8) Industrial-scale energy storage

9) High-temperature superconductors

10) Calculating the weight of the world

Alzheimer’s drug helps patients live longer

London: A new study published in the The Lancet Neurology journal has revealed that the drug, Galantamine, improves the quality of life for sufferers of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The research showed that it improves the condition of patients and extends their life expectancy.

But in the UK, the £2.50 a day treatment, is not available to patients when symptoms become too severe.

Professor Alistair Burns of the University of Manchester, who led the study said: “The results from a very conservative viewpoint do not support withdrawal of such treatment.”

Exercise helps prevent brain shrinkage

New research in Alzheimer’s prevention shows the important relationship between exercise and preventing Alzheimer’s disease.

A new study has found that people with early Alzheimer’s disease who were less physically fit had four times more brain shrinkage than those who were more physically fit.

(Researchers think that exercise has a direct effect on preserving brain volume, says lead author Jeffrey M. Burns, MD. Preserving brain volume also aids brain function.

“People with early Alzheimer’s disease may be able to preserve their brain function for a longer period of time by exercising regularly and potentially reducing the amount of brain volume lost,” Dr. Burns writes. “Evidence shows decreasing brain volume is tied to poorer cognitive performance, so preserving more brain volume may translate into better cognitive performance.”

The people were tested with treadmill walking, oxygen consumption (a measure of aerobic fitness), mental tests and brain imaging. The results strongly indicated the positive benefits of exercise and a correlation with the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

Exercise isn’t the only thing that can help your brain resist the ravages of this disease. There are many proven natural ways to prevent Alzheimer’s. Research supports the use of fish oil, ginkgo, vitamin D, vitamin E, folic acid, green tea and curcumin as effective steps towards Alzheimer’s prevention.

New drug attacks Alzheimer’s

London: British scientists have trialed a new drug that stops the worst effects of Alzheimer’s Disease.

A daily capsule of Rember, is Isaid to be more than twice as effective as current treatments and can prevent the desease from progressing, in effect stablising it.

In trials patients who tried the drug had no further significant decline in their mental function over 19 months.

Rember attacks the plaque tangles that destroy nerve cells and memory allowing the brain to recover.

The bad news is the that drug will not be available for at least four years. There are also doubts as to whether it will be available on the UK’s National Health Service following the decision not to fund another drug, Aricept, which only costs £2.50 a day.

The one-a-day pill also has the potential to be used to prevent the disease progressing at even earlier stages ie when there are no symptoms.

The Rember trial was carried out by a team at the University of Aberdeen and the new research was presented at the International Conference on Alzheimer’s disease in Chicago, involved 321 people with mild and moderate Alzheimer’s disease in the UK and Singapore.

They were divided into four groups, three taking different doses of rember and a fourth group taking a placebo or dummy capsule.

After 50 weeks, those with both mild and moderate Alzheimer’s who were taking rember experienced 81 per cent less mental decline compared with those on the placebo.

Those taking rember did not experience any significant decline in their mental function over 19 months, while those on the placebo got worse.

The results suggest the drug is about two-and-a-half times more effective than existing drugs called cholinesterase inhibitors.

Images of the brain showed rember had its biggest effect in the parts linked to memory, where the density of tau tangles is greatest, with better blood flow to these areas.

The drug works by dissolving the tangle of tau fibres which releases waste products that kill nerve cells, and by preventing the fibres from becoming tangled.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Donald Mowat, who monitored the progress of patients, said they were more confident, better able to cope with daily life and not experiencing the level of mental decline they had expected.

The trial was a Phase 2 study, which checks the safety and efficacy of the drug, but if a large-scale Phase 3 trial due next year repeats the findings, the drug could be available for prescribing by 2012. At the same time, the research team is investigating a way of diagnosing Alzheimer’s at its earliest stages when tau tangles are first being formed in the brain.

People may have these tangles in their 50s, long before symptoms develop, and the researchers hope the drug could be used as a preventive treatment.

Professor Wischik co-founded TauRx Therapeutics, which is developing the treatment.

Professor Stephen Logan, professor of neuroscience and TauRx board member, said: ‘This is a fantastic breakthrough and very exciting.

‘Patients have been doing well for 18 or 19 months. They are continuing to take the drug and will probably do so until there is no benefit or they start to decline.

Blood pressure drugs help cut Alzheimer’s risk

Chicago: Drugs used to cut blood pressure has been shown to improve the risk of Alzheimer’s.

According to a new US study of angiotensin receptor blockers, or ARBs, which are normally prescribed as a second choice treatment to patients unable to tolerate ACE inhibitors, another class of blood pressure drug, the results are dramatic.

Both drugs work by allowing the blood vessels to the vessels to relax and widen so more blood can flow through them, which cuts blood pressure.

Alzheimer’s is associated with high blood pressure, damaged arteries and amaloid plaques, a type of protein which attaches itself to the neurotransmitters in the brain.

In the new study, an Alzheimer’s conference in Chicago was told, six million patients treated for high blood pressure between 2001 and 2006 were examined by scientists.

Those taking ARBs were 35 to 40 per cent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia than patients on other medications.

Patients already suffering from Alzheimer’s when they started taking ARBs had a 45 per cent reduced chance of developing delirium, being admitted to a nursing home, or dying prematurely during the period of the study.

Those who had experienced strokes before or during the course of their illness appeared to benefit most from the drugs.

Study leader Professor Benjamin Wolozin, of Boston university medical school, said: ‘For those who already have dementia, use of ARBs might delay deterioration of brain function and help keep patients out of nursing homes. The study is particularly interesting because we compared the effects of ARBs to other medications used for treating blood pressure or cardiovascular disease.’

Alzheimer’s Disease is affecting more and more older adults as people live longer.

Can tomatoes fight Alzheimer’s?

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Seol: Korean scientists have genetically modified tomatoes to produce a prototype vacinne against Alzheimer’s Disease.

The disease, kills brain cells when a sticky plaque known as beta-amyloid protein clogs up nerve connections.

And the disease, which starts with short-term memory loss and leads to death, is on the increase as people live longer.Current drugs do not prevent or cure it but only slow its progress.

The researchers from the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology say they have genetically modified the fruit to create an edible vaccine that fires up the immune system to fight the disease.

To create the vaccine, the scientists combined the gene behind the beta-amyloid protein with the tomato’s genetic code.They then used mice to experiment with the designer tomatoes.

Blood samples taken from the mice revealed the tomatoes triggered their immune systems to release disease-fighting antibodies, although the levels of plaques in the brain were not reduced.

They said the tomato was a good way of getting a vaccine into the body because it was enjoyable to eat and could be eaten raw.The vaccine could be destroyed if the tomatoes were cooked, they added.

Tomatoes are already known as a natural antioxidant. They cut cholesterol and may help prevent some cancers (prostate, rectal and colon), protect against sunburn and are packed with vitamin C. The active ingredient is called lycopene which is responsible for the red colour.

Herb remedy fails Alzheimer’s victims

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London: Research on the herbal remedy, ginkgo biloba, has concluded that it does not help treat Alzheimer’s disease.

The Chinese remedy is taken by one in ten sufferers of dementia, but new research by the Alzheimer’s Society, has found it has no real impact on symptoms.

A total of 176 adults with mild to moderate dementia took part in the six month study. Half were given a 120 milligram daily dose and the others a placebo.

The result was that the herb, made from the leaves of a tree, did not bring any significant improvement to their quality of life, says a report published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.