November 4, 2017

Health Roundup: Alzheimer's Edition

New 'plaque destroying' light therapy could prevent Alzheimer's disease by blitzing dangerous proteins

Researchers from Rice University in Houston, Texas, developed a probe to target proteins in the brain that cause Alzheimer's disease. An optic probe has been developed by scientists that glows over 100 times more brightly when it identifies the fine fibers, or fibrils, of amyloid beta that kill neurons. The light then oxidizes the fibers to prevent them from clumping together in patients' brains, which inhibits memory and makes them confused.

Bizarre Cucumber-based vaccine to treat Alzheimer's  Works on mice.

A cucumber-based vaccine that protects against Alzheimer's disease, cat allergies and psoriasis could be in the pipeline, researchers claim. Scientists believe they have created a 'magic bullet' by using a virus that normally affects the vegetable in their quest for a cure against several conditions. They hailed the results of their trial as a breakthrough which could lead to 'hundreds of thousands of people being spared the ravages of chronic diseases'.

The bizarre technique, proven to work on mice, is also expected to protect against many common allergies and even types of chronic pain. Scientists at Dundee and Oxford universities used the protein coat of the cucumber mosaic virus - which can cause lumps to appear on the vegetable - for their vaccine. It was then combined with a protein structure from the tetanus vaccine - which is already known to stimulate the immune system.The British research team, who published their work in Nature Vaccine, say more trials are required to properly test the vaccines.

Alzheimer's Patients Have Altered Gut Bacteria

Overall, Alzheimer's patients had reduced microbial diversity, as well as a few noteworthy differences in bacterial abundance.  ....The current study is only correlational, so the differences in gut bacteria may result from Alzheimer's disease rather than contribute to it. However, research published earlier this year showed that transferring the intestinal bacteria of mice afflicted with Alzheimer's into the guts of germ-free mice caused the germ-free mice to develop more beta-amyloid plaques in the brain compared to if they had received bacteria from healthy mice. Beta-amyloid plaques are a hallmark sign of Alzheimer's, accruing on the neurons of people afflicted with the disease.

Alzheimer's could begin outside the brain:

Toxic proteins behind the disease can develop anywhere in the body before invading grey matter like cancer, reveals study. Researchers at the University of British Columbia in Canada found the toxic proteins that lead to the neurodegenerative illness can develop in the liver or even kidneys before invading grey matter. The discovery could lead to drugs that target dementia in organs that are much easier to treat - years before the onset of symptoms.  Alzheimer's, the most common form of dementia, has long been assumed to originate in the brain. But this new research indicates it could be started by breakdowns elsewhere.

Doctors Have Trouble Diagnosing Alzheimer's. AI Doesn't

Algorithms can look at brain scans of people exhibiting memory loss and tell who will develop Alzheimer's disease and who won't Separate teams of scientists at the University of Bari in Italy and McGill University in Canada have created artificial intelligence algorithms that can look at brain scans of people who are exhibiting memory loss and tell who will go on to develop full-blown Alzheimer's disease and who won't.  The difference in amyloid between the two groups is too subtle for humans to detect, but the AI system, called AIDDementia (short for Artificial Intelligence for Diagnosing Dementia), had no problem. When it analyzed a new set of 82 brain scans, it identified who would develop Alzheimer’s in the next two years with 84 percent accuracy.

Alzheimer’s Risk Determined By Spit? New Test Shows Promise, Study Finds

The study, conducted by the Beaumont Research Institute, hopes to be among the first that could spot the potential for Alzheimer’s early on, allowing for increased prevention methods among patients. Treatment for the disease is far more effective when started earlier in a patient’s life. The study finds that a person’s risk of suffering from Alzheimer’s disease may be accurately detected from their spit. Researchers examined 29 people — eight of whom had mild cognitive impairment (MCI), nine who suffered from Alzheimer’s, and 12 who were considered healthy — and collected saliva samples from each. Using what’s called “metabolomics,” a new process that probes molecules involved in metabolism, the researchers were able to find and identify 57 metabolites. Twenty-two of those biomarkers from the participants with either MCI or Alzheimer’s showed significant differences from those examined in the control group. The team believes those biomarkers could signal a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Forget  Young People's Blood as Dementia Treatment

Despite the hype, giving dementia patients the blood of young donors hasn't turned out to be the silver bullet in the heart of Alzheimer's - not yet, at any rate.The small, controversial and much hailed human clinical trial that began in 2014 has concluded - and found that the rich, juicy blood of the young makes no changes to the cognitive state of dementia patients.

"The scientific basis for the trial is simply not there," said neurologist Irina Conboy of the University of California, Berkeley, who has performed parabiosis experiments. The effects of young blood on cognition have not been replicated by an independent group, and there has never been a test with a mouse model of Alzheimer's."

Cup Of Tea A Day Keeps Dementia Away,

Drinking tea as a senior citizen — especially those at higher risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s — could help prevent serious mental decline, concludes a new study from the National University of Singapore after looking at 957 Chinese individuals who were 55 years of age or older in a longitudinal study.  The study’s findings were rather promising: those who drank tea daily reduced their risk of cognitive decline by 50 percent. Participants who carried the gene associated with Alzheimer’s disease saw a diminished risk of cognitive impairment by up to 86 percent. This finding held regardless of the type of tea that one drank— e.g. black, green, oolong. As long as the tea leaves had been freshly brewed, consuming tea was found to help protect the brain. Despite “tea [being] one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world,” its tremendous health benefits are often overlooked, argues lead researcher Feng Lei.
Posted by Jill Fallon at November 4, 2017 11:36 AM | Permalink