Can exercise slow down Alzheimer’s?

A proof-of-concept brain imaging study suggests that exercising four or five times a week may delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in people who already have toxic buildups of beta-amyloid protein.

The new research is a 1-year randomized controlled trial led by Prof. Rong Zhang. The team published their findings in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Prof. Zhang is affiliated with the departments of neurology, neurotherapeutics, and internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, in Dallas.

Full story at Medical News Today

Exercising at home has a positive effect on Parkinson’s patients

Even though exercise is known to be healthy, many people find it difficult to maintain an exercise program for a longer time. This applies even more to people with a chronic illness such as Parkinson’s disease, where physical and mental limitations are additional obstacles. The Park-in-Shape study, funded by ZonMW (Netherlands Organization for Health Research & Development), tested an innovative solution for this challenge. The participants were divided into two groups. Both groups had a motivational app at their disposal, which offered the participants rewards for exercising. The control group only performed stretching exercises, while the active intervention group was instructed to exercise for 30-45 minutes on a stationary bicycle at home, at least three times a week.

The active group’s exercise bikes were also equipped with motivating games, making the program more entertaining and challenging for the participants. For example, the participants could race against their own previous performance — a “ghost rider” — or against a group of other cyclists. The system adjusted the difficulty of the game to the patient’s heartbeat, making the challenge just right. The challenges also became more difficult as the participants got fitter.

Full story at Science Daily

Regulator of first responder cells to brain injury

Astrocytes are the most abundant cells in the brain, yet there is still much to learn about them. For instance, it is known that when the brain is injured or diseased astrocytes are the first responders. They become reactive and play roles that can be both beneficial and deleterious, but little is known about how these diverse responses to injury are regulated. Working with mouse models, a multi-institutional group led by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine has identified nuclear factor I-A (NFIA) as a central regulator of both the generation and activity of reactive astrocytes.

Unexpectedly, NFIA’s role seems to depend on the type of injury and on the region of the central nervous system where the injury occurs. The report also begins to define the molecular mechanisms involved, and shows that NFIA also is abundant in reactive astrocytes found in human pediatric and adult neurological injuries, suggesting that NFIA may play similar roles in people. The study appears in The Journal of Clinical Investigation. “Reactive astrocytes are associated with most forms of neurological disorders, from acute injury to degeneration, but their contributions to disease are only now coming to light,” said corresponding author Dr. Benjamin Deneen, professor of neurosurgery and the Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine at Baylor.

Full story at Science Daily

Dementia Care in Assisted Living Homes

ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE AND dementia are becoming an increasingly big part of the health care conversation in America as the population ages and more people develop these cognitive ailments. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 5 million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease today, a figure that’s anticipated to nearly triple to 14 million by 2060.

For many people, once dementia has progressed to a certain level, they may need more care than family members can provide and may need to be placed in a long-term care facility– either an assisted living community or a nursing home.

Some of these facilities provide amazing care and support of older adults dealing with cognitive decline or dementia. Others may not. And if you’re considering placing a loved one into an assisted living facility that offers dementia care, there are a few factors you should consider when evaluating whether a specific community is the right one.

Full story at US News

Dementia care program improves mental health of patients, caregivers

UCLA-led research finds that a comprehensive dementia care program staffed by nurse practitioners working within a health system improves the mental and emotional health of patients and their caregivers.

While the program did not slow the progression of dementia, it did reduce patients’ behavioral problems and depression, and lower the distress of caregivers, the researchers found.

The paper is published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The findings, based on data from the UCLA Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program, suggest that such programs are a promising approach toward improving the psychological health of patients and caregivers, said Dr. David Reuben, chief of the UCLA Division of Geriatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and the study’s lead author.

Full story at Science Daily

Medical mistrust impacts African American men’s preventive health, but racism also matters

Mistrust of health care providers, fueled by painful experiences with racism, makes African American men more likely to delay routine screenings and doctor’s appointments, according to a new study in the journal Behavioral Medicine by the Health Disparities Institute (HDI) at UConn Health, with potentially serious implications for their overall health.

“Medical mistrust is significantly contributing to delays in African American men utilizing the health care system,” says Dr. Wizdom Powell, the study’s lead author, who is HDI director and associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UConn School of Medicine.

The new study reports that “medical mistrust” — defined as a suspicion or lack of trust in medical organizations — is associated with delays in African American men’s routine health visits, blood pressure, and cholesterol screenings. It also found that men who report experiencing frequent everyday racism had higher odds of delaying screenings and routine health care visits. Also, those who perceived racism in health care had more medical mistrust with significantly reduced rates of preventive health care utilization.

Full story at Science Daily

Clinical trial reveals potential for treating larger strokes with thrombectomy

Building on research results published today in JAMA Neurology showing patients with larger ischemic strokes could benefit from endovascular thrombectomy, an international, multicenter Phase III clinical trial will be starting at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

The trial, called SELECT2 (Optimizing Patient Selection for Endovascular Treatment in Acute Ischemic Stroke), is a randomized, controlled, open-label, assessor-blinded trial assessing efficacy and safety of thrombectomy procedure in patients with larger ischemic stroke.

While multiple previous clinical trials showed that endovascular thrombectomy was safe and beneficial for patients with smaller areas of damage from an ischemic stroke, potential safety and benefits for larger strokes are still unknown.

Full story at Science Daily

Normal Brain vs. Brain With Dementia

YOU DON’T NEED TO BE A brain specialist to notice certain differences in images of a healthy older person’s brain compared to that of someone with dementia. Narrowed, depleted folds on the brain’s surface, the presence of blotchy plaques, twisted fibers and significant shrinkage are clearly visible. What you can’t see is how brain changes like these affect how people’s minds work.

In a program from the National Press Foundation and funded by AARP, “Understanding the Latest on Dementia Issues,” journalists heard from a spectrum of dementia experts, including researchers, gerontologists, family caregivers and a brilliant engineer who described her personal journey with early-onset Alzheimer’s. In addition, a leading neuroscientist detailed how normal brain aging is very different than changes arising from dementia and not something to be feared.

Full story at US News

Call it Mighty Mouse: Breakthrough leaps Alzheimer’s research hurdle

University of California, Irvine researchers have made it possible to learn how key human brain cells respond to Alzheimer’s, vaulting a major obstacle in the quest to understand and one day vanquish it. By developing a way for human brain immune cells known as microglia to grow and function in mice, scientists now have an unprecedented view of crucial mechanisms contributing to the disease.

The team, led by Mathew Blurton-Jones, associate professor of neurobiology & behavior, said the breakthrough also holds promise for investigating many other neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s, traumatic brain injury, and stroke. The details of their study have just been published in the journal Neuron.

The scientists dedicated four years to devising the new rodent model, which is considered “chimeric.” The word, stemming from the mythical Greek monster Chimera that was part goat, lion and serpent, describes an organism containing at least two different sets of DNA.

Full story at Science Daily

Can scientists find the formula for ‘better aging?’

Some researchers hope to find the secret of keeping old age at bay and enjoying eternal youth instead. However, a team of scientists from Southern California is looking for a different “recipe” — that of better aging.

“To drink from the fountain of youth, you have to figure out where the fountain of youth is and understand what the fountain of youth is doing,” says Nick Graham, who is an assistant professor in the Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering & Materials Science at the University of Southern California (USC) Viterbi School of Engineering in Los Angeles.

However, this is not what Graham and his colleague from USC are trying to achieve. As Graham himself notes: “We’re doing the opposite; we’re trying to study the reasons cells age so that we might be able to design treatments for better aging.”

Full story at Medical News Today