Alzheimer's

Fresh evidence that the body's immune system interacts directly with the brain could lead to a new understanding of diseases from multiple sclerosis to Alzheimer's.

A study of human and monkey brains found lymphatic vessels — a key part of the body's immune system — in a membrane that surrounds the brain and nervous system, a team reported Tuesday in the online journal eLife.

Efforts to develop a treatment that stalls the memory-robbing devastation of Alzheimer's disease have so far been unsuccessful, but scientists are making strides in another important area: the development of better tests to tell who has the condition.

Their aim is to develop more accurate, cheaper and less invasive tests to detect the biological markers of Alzheimer's-induced changes in the brain.

"They're not gonna want me to play 'babies in space'," says Greg O'Brien. "You know, where I pick 'em up in my hands and I swirl them around over my head like a rocket ship. I always say 'Babies! In! Spaaaaace!' "

It's October 2016, and he is musing about the latest O'Brien family news. His daughter, Colleen, is due to have a baby in November, and ever since he found out, Greg has been struggling with competing emotions.

There's growing evidence that a lack of sleep can leave the brain vulnerable to Alzheimer's disease.

"Changes in sleep habits may actually be setting the stage" for dementia, says Jeffrey Iliff, a brain scientist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.

The brain appears to clear out toxins linked to Alzheimer's during sleep, Iliff explains. And, at least among research animals that don't get enough solid shut-eye, those toxins can build up and damage the brain.

A drug that's already approved for treating leukemia appears to dramatically reduce symptoms in people who have Parkinson's disease with dementia, or a related condition called Lewy body dementia.

A pilot study of 12 patients given small doses of nilotinib found that movement and mental function improved in all of the 11 people who completed the six-month trial, researchers reported Saturday at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago.

Sergey Bogachuk, 123rf Stock Photo

As we head into the autumn months our minds may go to all of the delicious food associated with the holidays. While many focus on heart health, it's also important to give your brain the things you need to be as healthy as possible. On Sounds Good, Tracy Ross speaks with Lisa Raum, registered dietician and Nutrition Affairs Program Manager of the Southeast Dairy Association, about ways to defend yourself over the cold months with healthy tips to "feed your brain." 

There have been suggestions that low levels of vitamin D might be a factor in cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease, but there's no proof that the lack of D is actually causing the problems.

A study published Monday doesn't prove that link, but it does find that people with low levels of vitamin D lost key thinking skills more quickly than people with enough.

alz.org

There are 60,000 Kentuckians with Alzheimer's disease and 270,000 caregivers in the Commonwealth. It's a good number of caregivers, says Kimberly Fondaw, Alzheimer's Ambassador for the First District in western Kentucky, but there needs to be more education to the public and funding for research before it bankrupts the system. This year alone, we've paid out $153 billion dollars in Medicare and Medicaid to those with Alzheimer's and the numbers are growing, she says. Tracy Ross speaks with Fondaw on Sounds Good about upcoming awareness events in Hopkinsville and Paducah. 

Ann Gordon / Flickr (Creative Commons License)

An estimated 80,000 Kentuckians are serving as caregivers to family members suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia.

The Greater Kentucky-Southern Indiana chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association wants more of those caregivers to be better informed about resources available to them.

The face of Alzheimer's isn't always old. Sometimes it belongs to someone like Giedre Cohen, who is 37, yet struggles to remember her own name.

Until about a year ago, Giedre was a "young, healthy, beautiful" woman just starting her life, says her husband, Tal Cohen, a real estate developer in Los Angeles. Now, he says, "her mind is slowly wasting away."

People like Giedre have a rare gene mutation that causes symptoms of Alzheimer's to appear before they turn 60.

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