A new dementia drug offers hope to some sufferers

A new dementia drug made from pigs’ brains could help sufferers of a vascular variant of the disease.
 The new drug, brand name Cerebrolysin improves concentration, memory processing and mood in patients and appears to have no adverse side effects.
Vascular dementia, caused by damage to blood vessels supplying the brain affects around 1 in four of dementia sufferers.  Symptoms include vagueness, lack of concentration, difficulties communicating, as well as seizures and confusion.
The drug which is still undergoing trials is licensed in some countries for dementia, stroke and traumatic brain injury – although not yet in the UK or US.
A recent review by researchers at the Department of Neurology at Sichuan University in Sichuan, China, said they had found evidence to suggest that Cerebrolysin can help improve cognitive and global function in patients with mild to moderate severity vascular dementia. They reviewed evidence from six trials on 597 patients who were given Cerebrolysin in different amounts over different timespans. It was found that the drug significantly improved brain function, including recall, arithmetic and other cognitive abilities. It also improved general mood.
Cerebrolysin is a drug made from pig brain proteins that has produced some positive results from small vascular dementia trials. Another difficulty is that it has to be given by regular intravenous infusions necessary, says the review. So far no serious side affects have been reported.
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Can a new test predict Alzheimer’s in middle-age?

dementia.jpgA new study has revealed that apparently healthy adults can already have the brain lesions associated with Alzheimers.

The neurological decline that leads to Alzheimer’s disease may begin in middle-age and can be predicted with a simple to administer test.

The study, a collaboration between Professor David Bunce at Brunel University and a visiting professorial fellow at The Australian National University (ANU) – has revealed that some apparently healthy adults living in the community aged between 44 and 48 years have minute white matter lesions in areas of their brains similar to those found in persons with Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

A further breakthrough generated as part of this research has allowed scientists to more easily predict which individuals may develop these lesions.

The results suggest that the neurological decline thought to lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease may begin much earlier in people’s lives than was originally thought.

“Although we cannot be certain that these middle-aged people will go on to get dementia, the results are important for several reasons,” said Professor Bunce.

“First, the study is one of the first to show that lesions in areas of the brain that deteriorate in dementia are present in some adults aged in their 40s.

“Second, although the presence of the lesions was confirmed through MRI scans, we were able to predict those persons who had them through very simple to administer tests.

“Finally, if the findings are repeated in laboratories elsewhere, the study lays open possibilities for screening, early detection and intervention in healthcare settings. The earlier we can intervene with people vulnerable to eventual dementia, the greater the chances of preventing or delaying the disease onset.”

The researchers’ paper, ‘Cognitive Deficits are associated with Frontal and Temporal Lobe White Matter Lesions in Middle-Aged Adults Living in the Community’ is published in the open-access journal PLoSONE (Public Library of Science-ONE).

A copy of the paper is available at http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0013567

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¬ís 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 ¬ó depending on the individual patient.”

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ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE