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October 11, 2010, 7:49 AM CT

Experimental vaccine against Alzheimer's

Experimental vaccine against Alzheimer's
Scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center have created an experimental vaccine against beta-amyloid, the small protein that forms plaques in the brain and is believed to contribute to the development of Alzheimer's disease.

Compared with similar so-called DNA vaccines that the UT Southwestern scientists tested in an animal study, the new experimental vaccine stimulated more than 10 times as a number of antibodies that bind to and eliminate beta-amyloid. The results appeared in the journal Vaccine

Future studies will focus on determining the safety of the vaccine and whether it protects mental function in animals, said Dr. Roger Rosenberg, director of the Alzheimer's Disease Center at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study.

"The antibody is specific; it binds to plaque in the brain. It doesn't bind to brain tissue that does not contain plaque," Dr. Rosenberg said. "This approach shows promise in generating enough antibodies to be useful clinically in treating patients."

A traditional vaccine an injection of beta-amyloid protein itself into the arm has been shown in other research to trigger an immune response, including the production of antibodies and other bodily defenses against beta-amyloid. However, the immune response to this type of vaccine sometimes caused significant brain swelling, so Dr. Rosenberg and colleagues focused on developing a nontraditional DNA vaccine.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


October 6, 2010, 7:43 AM CT

Low Testosterone Linked to Alzheimer's

Low Testosterone Linked to Alzheimer's
John Morley, M.D
Low levels of the male sex hormone, testosterone, in older men is linked to the onset of Alzheimer's disease, as per research by a team that includes a Saint Louis University scientist.

"Having low testosterone may make you more vulnerable to Alzheimer's disease," said John E. Morley, M.D., director of the division of geriatric medicine at Saint Louis University and a study co-investigator. "The take-home message is we should pay more attention to low testosterone, especially in people who have memory problems or other signs of cognitive impairment".

The study was published electronically previous to its print publication in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and led by Leung-Wing Chu, M.D., who is chief of the division of geriatric medicine at Queen Mary Hospital at the University of Hong Kong.

Scientists studied 153 Chinese men who were recruited from social centers. They were at least 55 years and older, lived in the community and didn't have dementia. Of those men, 47 had mild cognitive impairment - or problems with clear thinking and memory loss.

Within a year, 10 men who all were part of the cognitively impaired group developed probable Alzheimer's disease. These men also had low testosterone in their body tissues; elevated levels of the ApoE 4 (apolipoprotein E) protein, which is correlated with a higher risk of Alzheimer's disease; and high blood pressure.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


October 5, 2010, 7:17 AM CT

Sing to cure speech disorder

Sing to cure speech disorder
Nandhu Radhakrishnan, professor of communication science and disorders in the School of Health Professions, is comparing two vocal styles in hopes of finding a treatment for laryngeal tremors, a vocal disorder associated with many neurological disorders.

Credit: University of Missouri

Hindustani singing, a North Indian traditional style of singing, and classical singing, such as the music of Puccini, Mozart and Wagner, vary greatly in technique and sound. Now, speech-language pathology scientists at the University of Missouri are comparing the two styles in hopes of finding a therapy for laryngeal tremors, a vocal disorder linked to a number of neurological disorders that can result in severe communication difficulties.

Sound is developed in the larynx, an organ located in the neck. A laryngeal or vocal tremor occurs when the larynx spasms during speech, creating a breathy voice featuring a constantly shifting pitch. People with Parkinson's disease and other similar disorders often display vocal tremors. Currently, speech-language pathologists are only able to help patients manage tremors. By understanding the physiology behind voluntary and involuntary pitch fluctuation, an MU researcher hopes to find a therapy.

"Hindustani and classical singing styles are very different," said Nandhu Radhakrishnan, professor of communication science and disorders in the School of Health Professions. "In Hindustani singing, performers use 'Taan' to modulate pitch voluntarily, while classical singers use vibrato to vary pitch involuntarily. With this knowledge, we appears to be able to develop a specific treatment to cure laryngeal tremors."........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


October 5, 2010, 7:15 AM CT

MRI to predict cognitive impairment

MRI to predict cognitive impairment
Using advanced MRI and an artificial intelligence technique, scientists in Geneva, Switzerland, have identified a method that may help identify which individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) will continue to decline, as per a research studypublished online and in the recent issue of Radiology.

"We know that about half of all individuals with early-stage mild cognitive impairment will progress to Alzheimer's disease," said lead researcher Sven Haller, M.D, M.Sc., a radiologist at University Hospitals of Geneva. "But not knowing which patients will continue to decline makes it difficult to treat Alzheimer's early in the disease process".

Haller and a team of scientists used two novel techniques to image the brains of 35 control participants (mean age 63.7) and 69 patients with MCI (mean age 65 years), including 38 women and 31 men. Patients were diagnosed with MCI based on a battery of neuropsychological tests, which were repeated on 67 of the patients one year later to determine whether their disease was stable (40 patients) or progressive (27 patients).

Using an advanced technique called susceptibility-weighted MRI, the scientists were able to generate scans with greater detail of the a number of blood vessels in the brain, including the presence of tiny leaks called microhemorrhages or microbleeds.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


September 25, 2010, 8:45 AM CT

Genetic risk factors for Alzheimer's disease

Genetic risk factors for Alzheimer's disease
Scientists have identified a gene that appears to increase a person's risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of the disease. The gene, abbreviated as MTHFD1L, is on chromosome six, and was identified in a genome-wide association study. Details are published September 23 in the journal PLoS Genetics

The collaborative team of scientists was led by Margaret A. Pericak-Vance, PhD, Director of the John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; Joseph D. Buxbaum, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine; and Jonathan L. Haines, PhD, Vanderbilt Center for Human Genetics Research, Vanderbilt University. The scientists were able to identify small differences in the genetic sequences of the MTHFD1L gene in people with and without Alzheimer's disease. The team observed that individuals with the variation appears to be nearly twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's disease as people without the variation. The scientists observed the gene variation throughout the human genomes of 2,269 people with late-onset Alzheimer's disease and 3,107 without the disease.

"Identifying this gene is important because the gene is known to be involved in influencing the body's levels of homocysteine, and high levels of homocysteine are a strong risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer disease," said Dr. Pericak-Vance. "In addition, variations of the MTHFD1L gene have been reported to possibly increase the risk of coronary artery disease. Since the function of blood vessels in the brain may affect Alzheimer's disease, this finding may help us understand how homocysteine levels and blood vessel function in the brain affect Alzheimer's disease."........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


September 23, 2010, 7:24 AM CT

Talking while walking to Parkinson's patients

Talking while walking to Parkinson's patients
Francis Eppes Professor of Communication Science and Disorders, Leonard L. LaPointe.

Credit: Florida State University

We've all heard the saying about people who can't walk and chew gum at the same time, but it turns out that walking and talking is difficult enough, particularly for people with Parkinson's disease who are at increased risk for falls with injury.

A new Florida State University study observed that elderly adults with Parkinson's disease altered their gait stride length, step velocity and the time they spent stabilizing on two feet when asked to perform increasingly difficult verbal tasks while walking. But the real surprise was that even elderly adults without a neurological impairment demonstrated similar difficulties walking and talking.

A disruption in gait could place Parkinson's patients and the elderly at an increased risk of falls, as per the Florida State researchers.

Francis Eppes Professor of Communication Science and Disorders Leonard L. LaPointe and.

co-authors Julie A.G. Stierwalt, associate professor in the School of Communication Science and Disorders, and Charles G. Maitland, professor of neurology in the College of Medicine, outlined their findings in "Talking while walking: Cognitive loading and injurious falls in Parkinson's disease." The study would be reported in the recent issue of the International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


September 23, 2010, 6:58 AM CT

Career choice and disease in brain

Career choice and disease in brain
FTLD patients with professions ranked highly for verbal skills, such as chief executive, showed atrophy in right temporal lobe. In those with professions ranked lower for verbal skills, such as art director, atrophy was identified in left temporal lobe.

Credit: Baycrest

In an international study of patients with a devastating type of dementia that often strikes in middle age, scientists have found intriguing evidence that career choice may influence where the disease takes root in the brain.

The study was led by Baycrest's Rotman Research Institute in collaboration with the Memory and Aging Centre at the University of California, San Francisco and several U.S. and European clinical sites. It appears online today in the Article in Press section of the journal Neuropsychologia, ahead of publication.

Scientists conducted a multi-centre, retrospective chart review of brain imaging and occupation data from 588 patients diagnosed with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), sometimes referred to as frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Among the dementias affecting those 65 years and younger, FTLD is as common as Alzheimer's disease. Like Alzheimer's, it is progressive and fatal. Unlike Alzheimer's, which tends to affect both sides of the brain equally, FTLD often manifests on either the left or the right side of the brain, then becomes more widespread as the disease progresses. Typical symptoms include changes in personality and behaviour, and a decline in language skills.

For this study, each patient's occupation was rated with scores derived from an occupation database published by the U.S. Department of Labor. The scores indicated the skills mandatory for the occupation, including verbal, physical and visuospatial skills. For example, a school principal would receive a higher rating for verbal skills than for visuospatial skills, whereas a flight engineer would show the opposite pattern. Both of these professions would score lower on physical skills than a firefighter.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


September 22, 2010, 7:32 AM CT

High-dose aspirin for headache and migraine

High-dose aspirin for headache and migraine
An inexpensive, hundred-year-old treatment for pain - aspirin - is effective in high doses for the therapy of severe headache and migraine caused by drug withdrawal, as per a newly released study by scientists with the UCSF Headache Center. Study participants were administered aspirin through an IV and 25 percent of the time they reported a significant reduction in pain - three points on the 10-point pain scale. (A difference of three points downgrades a headache from severe to moderate, moderate to mild, or from mild to pain-free). Participants reported a more modest pain reduction about 40 percent of the time.

The findings are noteworthy because high-dose intravenous aspirin is not widely available for headache sufferers in the United States, the authors say. Aspirin also is nontoxic, non-addictive, non-sedating, has few side effects for adults, and is less expensive than drug regimens such as triptans that physicians typically prescribe to headache patients to combat severe pain.

The study was reported in the September 21, 2010, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

"These results tell migraine sufferers, their doctors and insurance providers that high-dose intravenous aspirin is a beneficial way to treat difficult withdrawal headaches via a medicine that is not addictive or toxic," said Peter Goadsby, MD, PhD, lead investigator of the study, professor and director of the UCSF Headache Center. "We hope to make this inexpensive treatment more available to patients seeking therapy for severe pain." .........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


September 16, 2010, 8:37 AM CT

Brain protein levels and Alzheimer's disease

Brain protein levels and Alzheimer's disease
This is Eliezer Masliah, M.D., of the University of California - San Diego.

Credit: UCSD School of Medicine

Elevated levels of a growth protein in the brains of Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients is associated with impaired neurogenesis, the process by which new neurons are generated, say scientists at the University of California, San Diego in today's edition of The Journal of Neuroscience

Eliezer Masliah, MD, professor of neurosciences and pathology in the UC San Diego School of Medicine and his colleagues report that increased levels of BMP6 part of a family of bone morphogenetic proteins involved in cell signaling and growth were found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients and in mouse models of the disease.

BMP6 is primarily known to be involved in bone growth and the proliferation of non-neuronal glial cells in developing embryos. Its purpose in adult brains is less clear. "As a growth factor, it might initially be expressed for protective effect, a response to accumulating amyloid plaque proteins in Alzheimer's patients," said first author Leslie Crews, a post-doctoral researcher in Masliah's lab.

But too much BMP6 may be increasingly detrimental. Scientists observed that levels of BMP6 grew in step with the progression of Alzheimer's disease. "In early stages of AD, there was less protein than there was in later, more advanced stages," said Crews.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


September 11, 2010, 8:55 AM CT

Alzheimer protein's function revealed

Alzheimer protein's function revealed
In people with Alzheimer's, the brain becomes riddled with clumps of protein, forming what are known as amyloid plaques. Now, a report appearing in the September 17th print issue of Cell appears to have found a function for the amyloid precursor protein (APP for short) that yields the prime ingredient in those plaques.

It turns out that APP is an iron oxidase whose job it is to convert iron from an unsafe form to a safe one for transport or storage. When APP fails to function properly, as it does in Alzheimer's disease, iron levels inside neurons mount to toxic levels.

"This opens a big window on Alzheimer's disease and iron metabolism," said Ashley Bush of The Mental Health Research Institute, University of Melbourne.

"Eventhough people have attributed several important physiological roles to APP," added Jack Rogers of Harvard Medical School, "this now gives us an idea of what this critical protein does to underpin its role in iron metabolism".

In fact, there were some clues. Some years ago, the scientists discovered that the RNA template for the APP protein includes an iron-responsive element. When iron levels rise, cells ramp up their APP production.

But amyloid in and of itself doesn't really explain what goes wrong in the Alzheimer's brain. "There has been a lot of attention on amyloid, but it seems it is not a simple matter of amyloid as the sole culprit," Bush said. For one thing, trials of drugs designed to target and clear amyloid plaques haven't worked as intended.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
The drug Ativan is better than Valium or Dilantin for controlling severe epileptic seizures, according to a new review of studies.Ativan, or lorazepam, and Valium, or diazepam, are both benzodiazepines, the currently preferred class of drugs for treating severe epileptic seizures. Dilantin, or phenytoin, is an anticonvulsant long used for the treatment of epileptic seizures.

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