Alzheimer's disease (AD), also known as Alzheimer disease, is the most common form of dementia. The most common early symptom is difficulty in remembering recent events. As the disease advances, symptoms can include confusion, irritability, aggression, mood swings, trouble with language, and long-term memory loss. As a person's condition declines they often withdraw from family and society. Gradually, bodily functions are lost, ultimately leading to death. Although the speed of progression can vary, the average life expectancy following diagnosis is approximately seven years. Fewer than 3% of individuals live more than 14 years after diagnosis.
Alzheimer's disease is classified as a neurodegenerative disorder, the cause and progression of which are poorly understood. The disease process appears to be associated with plaques and tangles in the brain. Initial symptoms are often mistaken for 'age-related' concerns, or manifestations of stress. The diagnosis is usually confirmed with tests that evaluate behavior and thinking abilities, often followed by a brain scan. Examination of brain tissue; however, is required for a definite diagnosis. Mental stimulation, exercise, and a balanced diet have been suggested as ways to delay cognitive symptoms (though not brain pathology) in healthy older individuals, but there is no conclusive evidence supporting an effect.
No treatments stop or reverse its progression, though some may temporarily lessen symptoms. Because AD is progressive, the affected person increasingly relies on others for assistance. The role of the main caregiver is often taken by the spouse or a close relative. It may place a great burden on caregivers; the pressures can be wide-ranging, involving social, psychological, physical, and economic elements of the caregiver's life.
Most often, AD is diagnosed in people over 65 years of age, although the less-common early-onset Alzheimer's can occur in much younger people. In 2006, there were 26.6 million people worldwide with AD. Alzheimer's is predicted to affect 1 in 85 individuals globally by 2050. It was first described by (and later named after) German psychiatrist and neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer in 1906. In developed countries, AD is one of the most costly diseases to society. As of 2014, more than 1,500 clinical trials have been or are being conducted to test various treatments in AD. Read more ...
Women's Alzheimer's going undiagnosed because of better memory for words, study indicates Telegraph - October 6, 2016
Women's superior ability to remember words masks symptoms of early Alzheimer's and prevents them receiving timely diagnoses, new research suggests. A study found that females in the first stage of the progressive disease, known as mild cognitive impairment, had better verbal memory than men at an equivalent stage. Because word memory tests are one of the principal methods for diagnosing Alzheimer's, the findings indicate that for many women their condition will go undetected.
6 Big Mysteries of Alzheimer's Disease Live Science - September 26, 2016
Despite intensive, worldwide research efforts for more than three decades to better understand Alzheimer's disease, there are still numerous mysteries surrounding the condition. Alzheimer's disease is a slowly progressing brain disorder. In people with the condition, abnormal deposits of a protein called amyloid-beta forms sticky plaques in the brain, and strands of the protein tau twist around, causing tangles that ultimately kill brain cells and cause a loss of memory, thinking and reasoning skills. About 5.4 million Americans currently have Alzheimer's disease, and the number is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years as a larger share of the population ages, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Alzheimer's stemmed but not stopped, say experts Medical Express - September 19, 2016
Soaring rates of population growth and aging have long been seen as portending a global explosion of Alzheimer's, the debilitating disease that robs older people of their memory and independence. But an unexpected, and hopeful, trend may be emerging. In rich countries at least, recent data suggests the rate of new cases has slowed or even reversed - a tantalizing hint that quality-of-life improvements may protect against dementia.
Alzheimer's gene may show effects on brain starting in childhood Science Daily - July 14, 2016
A gene associated with Alzheimer's disease and recovery after brain injury may show its effects on the brain and thinking skills as early as childhood, according to a new study. A gene associated with Alzheimer's disease and recovery after brain injury may show its effects on the brain and thinking skills as early as childhood.
New link found between diabetes and Alzheimer's disease Medical Express - June 21, 2016
The study reports that Alzheimer's Disease and type 2 diabetes are so closely related that drugs currently used to control glucose levels in diabetes may also alleviate the symptoms and progression of Alzheimer's disease. Research found for the first time that dementia-related complications within the brain can also lead to changes in glucose handling and ultimately diabetes. This is contrary to what was previously thought - that diabetes begins with a malfunction in the pancreas or a high fat, high sugar diet.
Men may get head start on Alzheimer's treatment, study says CNN - March 16, 2016
If you're a woman who has just been diagnosed with mild cognitive decline or Alzheimer's, you might have missed out on years of treatment that could have slowed your disease progression. That's the takeaway from a new study that compared how men and women with varying stages of memory loss respond to verbal learning tests, a key method for diagnosing Alzheimer's and other memory disorders. The female advantage in verbal memory may allow women to maintain normal cognitive function for longer as the disease progresses.
Brain scan to diagnose Alzheimer's disease developed by scientists The Telegraph - March 2, 2016
Alzheimer's disease could be definitively diagnosed for the first time after scientists proved brain scans can pick up the condition in its earliest stages. Currently the only way to determine whether Alzheimer's is present is to look at the brain of a patient after death. For patients who are still alive, doctors usually use special cognitive tests which monitor memory and everyday skills such as washing and dressing.
Novel Chemical 'Washes Away' Alzheimer's Plaque in Mice Live Science - December 9, 2015
Scientists in Korea have found a small molecule that, when added to the drinking water of mice bred to develop Alzheimer's disease, washed away the protein plaques associated with the disease and improved the mice's learning and memory functions. The chemical, called EPPS - short for 4-(2-hydroxyethyl)-1- piperazinepropanesulphonic acid - posed no ill effect for the mice even at high doses. The scientists hope to conduct further studies to determine whether the EPPS is safe and effective for humans with Alzheimer's disease.
Gene which delays Alzheimer's Disease by 17 years discovered by scientists The Telegraph - December 1, 2015
A gene which slows the onset of Alzheimer's disease by 17 years has been discovered by scientists leading to hopes that its effects could be mimicked with drugs to delay the devastating condition. Scientists made the breakthrough while studying Colombians who carry genetic mutations which means they are more at risk of developing Alzheimer's than any other population in the world. In the town of Yaramul, half of residents will be diagnosed with the disease by the age of 45, while the rest will succumb by the time they are 65. Some have been known to first develop symptoms as young as 32-years-old and researchers have been looking for the genetic differences within the population which offer protection.
DNA repair protein BRCA1 implicated in cognitive function and dementia Science Daily - November 30, 2015
Researchers have shown for the first time that the protein BRCA1 is required for normal learning and memory and is depleted by Alzheimer's disease. BRCA1 is a key protein involved in DNA repair, and mutations that impair its function increase the risk for breast and ovarian cancer. The new study demonstrates that Alzheimer's disease is associated with a depletion of BRCA1 in neurons and that BRCA1 depletion can cause cognitive deficits.
Virtual reality maze predicts Alzheimer's disease BBC - October 24, 2015
Alzheimer's disease can be detected decades before onset, using a virtual reality test, a study suggests. People aged 18 to 30 were asked to navigate through a virtual maze to test the function of certain brain cells. Those with a high genetic risk of Alzheimer's could be identified by their performance, according to German neuroscientists.
Alzheimer's Risk: Women with Memory Problems Decline Faster Than Men Live Science - July 21, 2015
Elderly women are more likely than elderly men to develop Alzheimer's disease, even when they are exposed to some of the same risk factors, two new studies find. Senior women who have mild cognitive problems, such as memory impairment and difficulties with language or thinking skills, decline in cognitive ability twice as fast as men who also have mild cognitive impairment, according to one study. A separate study found that women declined more dramatically than men in measures of cognition, function and brain size after they underwent surgery and general anesthesia.
Scientists Look Into Why Most Alzheimer's Patients Are Women Epoch Times - June 29, 2015
Nearly two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer's disease are women, and now some scientists are questioning the long-held assumption that it's just because they tend to live longer than men. What else may put woman at extra risk? Could it be genetics? Biological differences in how women age? Maybe even lifestyle factors?
Drug restores brain function and memory in early Alzheimer's disease Science Daily - March 11, 2015
An existing epilepsy drug reverses a condition in elderly patients who are at high risk for dementia due to Alzheimer's disease. novel therapeutic approach for an existing drug reverses a condition in elderly patients who are at high risk for dementia due to Alzheimer's disease, researchers at Johns Hopkins University found. The drug, commonly used to treat epilepsy, calms hyperactivity in the brain of patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), a clinically recognized condition in which memory impairment is greater than expected for a person's age and which greatly increases risk for Alzheimer's dementia.
New non-invasive method can detect Alzheimer's disease early Science Daily - December 23, 2014
A noninvasive MRI approach that can detect the Alzheimer's disease in a living animal, well before typical Alzheimer's symptoms appear, has been developed by researchers. The research team created an MRI probe that pairs a magnetic nanostructure with an antibody that seeks out the amyloid beta brain toxins responsible for onset of the disease. The accumulated toxins, because of the associated magnetic nanostructures, show up as dark areas in MRI scans of the brain.
Imaging shows brain connection breakdown in early Alzheimer's disease PhysOrg - December 1, 2014
Changes in brain connections visible on MRI could represent an imaging biomarker of Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. As many as 5 million Americans are affected, a number expected to grow to 14 million by 2050. Preventive treatments may be most effective before Alzheimer's disease is diagnosed, such as when a person is suffering from mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a decline in cognitive skills that is noticeable but not severe enough to affect independent function. Previous efforts at early detection have focused on beta amyloid, a protein found in abnormally high amounts in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease.
Bilingualism delays Alzheimer manifestation by more than four years PhysOrg - December 1, 2014
Between March 2013 and May 2014, 69 monolingual and 65 bilingual Belgian patients suffering from probable Alzheimer's disease (AD) participated in the study. Psychologists Evy Woumans, Micha‘l Stevens, and Wouter Duyck, together with neurologists Patrick Santens, Anne Sieben, and Jan Versijpt determined the age of AD manifestation and AD diagnosis for both language groups.
Different forms of Alzheimer's have similar effects on brain networks PhysOrg - August 28, 2014
Brain networks break down similarly in rare, inherited forms of Alzheimer's disease and much more common uninherited versions of the disorder, a new study has revealed. Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown that in both types of Alzheimer's, a basic component of brain function starts to decline about five years before symptoms, such as memory loss, become obvious. The breakdown occurs in resting state functional connectivity, which involves groups of brain regions with activity levels that rise and fall in coordination with each other. Scientists believe this synchronization helps the regions form networks that work together or stay out of each other's way during mental tasks.
Rescue of Alzheimer's memory deficit achieved by reducing 'excessive inhibition' PhysOrg - June 13, 2014
A new drug target to fight Alzheimer's disease has been discovered by a research team led by Gong Chen, a Professor of Biology and the Verne M. Willaman Chair in Life Sciences at Penn State University. The discovery also has potential for development as a novel diagnostic tool for Alzheimer's disease, which is the most common form of dementia and one for which no cure has yet been found.
Secret behind why Alzheimer's patients cannot make new memories discovered Telegraph - June 13, 2014
Scientists discover molecule that stops new memories forming in people with Alzheimer's disease, raising hopes of new drugs to treat dementia. A drug to prevent the devastating memory loss associated with Alzheimer's disease is a step closer after scientists discovered the secret behind why people with dementia cannot form new memories. It was previously thought that Alzheimer's was primarily caused by the build up of sticky amyloid plaques in the brain which stop neurons from firing. But drugs to clear the plaques have so far failed to bring any improvement to sufferers. Many scientists believe that the amyloid plaques trigger a 'cascade effect' of other symptoms meaning that by the time they are spotted it is already too late. Researchers at Penn State University have now discovered that those plaques may be triggering overproduction of a chemical that drives memory loss by preventing a key part of the brain from functioning.
Study shows where Alzheimer's starts and how it spreads PhysOrg - December 23, 2013
Alzheimer's disease starts in the entorhinal cortex (yellow). Using fMRI in mouse (left) and human (right) brains, the researchers provide evidence that the disease spreads from the entohrinal cortex (yellow) to other cortical regions (red) -- the perirhinal cortex and posterior parietal cortex.
Dementia cases 'set to treble worldwide' by 2050 BBC - December 5, 2013
The number of people living with dementia worldwide is set to treble by 2050, according to a new analysis. Alzheimer's Disease International says 44 million people live with the disease, but that figure will increase to 135 million by 2050. Alzheimer's Disease International expects increasing life expectancies to drive a surge in cases in poor and middle-income countries, particularly in South East Asia and Africa. Currently 38% of cases are in rich countries. But that balance is predicted shift significantly by 2050, with 71% of patients being in poor and middle-income countries.
Monthly injection to prevent Alzheimer's in five years Telegraph.co.uk - December 4, 2013
Scientists are hopeful of a breakthrough in dementia within five years - with drugs that could be given to prevent disease. Researchers say a new drug has shown some promise in patients with mild dementia, and might be yet more effective if given to those at risk of disease long before they show any symptoms.
Molecular Trigger for Alzheimer's Disease Identified Science Daily - May 21, 2013
Researchers have pinpointed a catalytic trigger for the onset of Alzheimer's disease Đ when the fundamental structure of a protein molecule changes to cause a chain reaction that leads to the death of neurons in the brain. For the first time, scientists at Cambridge's Department of Chemistry have been able to map in detail the pathway that generates aberrant forms of proteins which are at the root of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's. They believe the breakthrough is a vital step closer to increased capabilities for earlier diagnosis of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, and opens up possibilities for a new generation of targeted drugs, as scientists say they have uncovered the earliest stages of the development of Alzheimer's that drugs could possibly target.
Scientists Reverse Memory Loss in Animal Brain Cells Science Daily - April 17, 2013
Neuroscientists at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) have taken a major step in their efforts to help people with memory loss tied to brain disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. Using sea snail nerve cells, the scientists reversed memory loss by determining when the cells were primed for learning. The scientists were able to help the cells compensate for memory loss by retraining them through the use of optimized training schedules.
In Blacks, Alzheimer's Study Finds Same Variant Genes as in Whites New York Times - April 10, 2013
African-Americans have a slightly higher risk of Alzheimer's disease than people of largely European ancestry, but there is no major genetic difference that could account for the slight excess risk, new research shows.
Major Step Toward an Alzheimer's Vaccine Science Daily - January 16, 2013
A team of researchers from Universite Laval, CHU de Quebec, and pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has discovered a way to stimulate the brain's natural defense mechanisms in people with Alzheimer's disease. The team identified a molecule that stimulates the activity of the brain's immune cells. The molecule, known as MPL (monophosphoryl lipid A), has been used extensively as a vaccine adjuvant by GSK for many years, and its safety is well established.
Blockade of Learning and Memory Genes May Occur Early in Alzheimer's Disease: Treatable in Mice Science Daily - March 1, 2012
A repression of gene activity in the brain appears to be an early event affecting people with Alzheimer's disease, researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health have found. In mouse models of Alzheimer's disease, this epigenetic blockade and its effects on memory were treatable.
Alzheimer's: Where did you get those eyes and that brain? PhysOrg - November 15, 2010
A family history of Alzheimer's disease significantly increases the risk for developing this disorder, but a new study in Biological Psychiatry suggests that which of your parents has the disease is very important.
Eye test could diagnose Alzheimer's Disease Telegraph.co.uk - January 14, 2010
A simple eye test carried out by your optician could pick up Alzheimer's Disease years before it develops and lead to early treatment to stop it in its tracks, claim scientists.
New Compound Identifies Alzheimer's Disease Brain Toxins, Study Shows Science Daily - March 28, 2008
A groundbreaking study conducted by University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer's disease researchers reported in the journal Brain confirms that Pittsburgh Compound-B (PiB) binds to the telltale beta-amyloid deposits found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease. The finding is a significant step toward enabling clinicians to provide a definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease in living patients.
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