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Protein Tau Alzheimer Key?

This is hopeful news from AOL Healthnews My family has a history of living long; my Mother is 92 and still has all her marbles. Staving off dementia is as key as keeping your body fit if you live to be a ripe old age.

Is a Protein in the Brain Key to Alzheimer’s?
By Dennis Thompson, HealthDay News

The malfunction of a protein, tau, is the likely culprit behind Alzheimer’s. When it malfunctions, brain cells die, a study finds.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Malfunction of a key brain protein called tau is the likely culprit behind Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, a new study in mice concludes.

Neurons — highly specialized nerve cells in the brain — appear to die when tau malfunctions and fails to clear the cells of unwanted and toxic proteins, explained Charbel Moussa, head of the Laboratory for Dementia and Parkinsonism at Georgetown University School of Medicine, in Washington, D.C.

This means drugs that replace the function of tau in these brain cells are likely to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, he said.

“A strategy like this will give us hope that we can delay or stabilize the disease progression,” Moussa said.

Tau has long been a prime suspect in the search for the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. The brains of Alzheimer’s patients wind up clogged with twisted protein threads made of tau, particularly in regions important to memory.

But researchers have been at a loss to explain why tau might cause Alzheimer’s, and whether the tangles of tau are more important than another hallmark of Alzheimer’s, plaques made of a protein called amyloid beta that fill the spaces between the brain’s nerve cells.

Moussa said his experiments with mice have shown that tau works to keep neurons naturally free of amyloid beta and other toxic proteins.

When tau malfunctions, the neurons begin to spit amyloid beta out into the space between the brain cells, where the protein sticks together and forms plaques, he said.

“When tau does not function, the cell cannot remove the garbage,” Moussa said. The result is cell death, he explained.

Tests on the brain cells of mice revealed that removing all tau impaired the neurons’ ability to clear out amyloid beta, according to findings published Oct. 31 in the journal Molecular Neurodegeneration. But if researchers reintroduced tau into brain cells, the neurons were better able to remove accumulated amyloid beta from the cells.

Moussa said his study suggests the remaining amyloid beta inside the neuron destroys the cells, not the plaques that build up outside. The mouse experiments also showed that fewer plaques accumulate outside the cell when tau is functioning.

Malfunctioning tau can occur as part of the aging process or due to genetic changes. As people grow older, some tau can malfunction while enough normal tau remains to help clear the garbage and keep neurons alive. “That explains the confusing clinical observations of older people who have plaque buildup, but no dementia,” Moussa explained in a Georgetown University news release.

In this study, Moussa also explored the possible use of a cancer drug called nilotinib to force neurons to keep themselves free of garbage, with the help of some remaining functional tau.

“This drug can work if there is a higher percentage of good to bad tau in the cell,” added Moussa, whose work was funded in part by a grant from Merck & Co., the pharmaceutical company.

Heather Snyder, director of medical and scientific operations for the Alzheimer’s Association, said Moussa’s findings are interesting but not conclusive.

“They’re saying that tau may have an earlier role than we currently know. That’s as far as I would go,” Snyder said. “We still don’t know how all the pieces come together.”

Snyder said new imaging technology that allows doctors to track tau buildup in a person’s brain over time may help solve this question in the future.

Also, experts say, results of animal experiments don’t necessarily apply to humans.

But Dr. Ronald Petersen, director of the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, said the new study adds to the growing evidence that “the role of tau is fundamental in the disease process.”

“Developing therapeutics for tau is a high priority,” Petersen said. “Not easy, not simple, but it could be very fruitful.”

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November 10, 2014 Posted by | Aging, Circle of Life and Death, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Health Issues, Quality of Life Issues | , , | Leave a comment

Alzheimers and Cancer: Does One Decrease the Liklihood of the Other?

A study published today on AOL Health News has an intriguing find – that there is a negative correlation between Alzheimers and cancers. You can read the entire study by clicking on the type above. Below is a quote from the study:Ei

Benito-Leon said that scientists need to better understand the link between Alzheimer’s disease, which causes abnormal cell death, and cancer, which causes abnormal cell growth.”

It refers also to a study published last year on

Skin Cancer May Be Linked to Lower Alzheimer’s Risk, Study Says

A new study finds a link between non-melanoma skin cancer and a decreased risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

 

From an earlier study on AOL EveryDay Health:

WEDNESDAY, May 15, 2013 — A new study found an association between a history of non-melanoma skin cancer and a reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease. The observational study, published in the journal Neurology, analyzed a cohort of 1,102 participants of the Einstein Aging Study at Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Institute of Aging in the Bronx, N.Y.

The researchers report that study participants with a history of non-melanoma skin cancer were close to 80 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than people who did not have skin cancer.Among the 141 participants who had non-melanoma skin cancer, only two developed Alzheimer’s disease. But the researchers say they’re still unsure why this link may exist.

“Our goal is really to identify risk factors and genetic factors for Alzheimer’s,” said Richard Lipton, MD, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, and lead author of the study. “One explanation is that there is a biological link, and another explanation is there’s a link between risk factors. Really what we need to do is sort out the reasons for these associations.”

Researchers followed participants for an average of 3.7 years. The average age of study participants was 79. At the start of the study, none of the subjects were reported to have dementia, though 109 people had a history of skin cancer. During the study, 32 additional people developed skin cancer, while 126 of the subjects developed dementia. Out of the subjects with dementia, 100 of them had Alzheimer’s-related dementia.

“In neurodegenerative disease, specific cell populations have a tendency to die,” said Dr. Lipton. “In cancer, cells tend to divide out of control. Good health requires a balance between cell death and cell division. Skin cancer may reflect a predisposition to cell division, which protects against Alzheimer’s disease.”

But Lipton also said that subjects in the study with a history of skin cancer may also have lived a more active life, engaging in outdoor activities such as running, playing tennis, or swimming. “We know that physical activity and cognitive activity can prevent against Alzheimer’s,” he said. Therefore, more physical activity would also likely mean more time spent under the sun and in the great outdoors.

Some experts, such as Ahmedin Jemal, PhD, vice president of Surveillance & Health Research at the American Cancer Society, speculates that these findings simply reflect how healthy lifestyle choices can reduce Alzheimer’s risk. “Those people who develop skin cancer are more likely to be physically active and if those people are physically active, they are more likely to eat healthy food, such as fruit and vegetables,” he said.

Dr. Jemal also said there’s research suggesting that high levels of vitamin D can also protect a person from developing Alzheimer’s disease. “For our body to synthesis vitamin D we need sunlight,” he said. One study published earlier this year in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, suggests that high levels of vitamin D may jump-start certain genes in the immune system that are able to help dissolve amyloid plaques in the brain. These plaques are found to cause Alzheimer’s disease.

But Lipton recognizes there are limits to his study. While the researchers did adjust their findings for age, gender, education, and race, they did not base any analysis on diet or vitamin D levels. He added that his team is seeking funding to analyze blood samples of study participants, which may be able to detect certain nutrition-based biomarkers, which may help to better understand the study findings.

Heather Snyder, PhD, director medical and scientific operations at the Alzheimer’s Association finds the study’s findings compelling, but she’s also skeptical, since the number of skin cancer incidences in the study pool is relatively small. However, she said the study points to the value of further research.

“[The study] really underscores the need to understand the biology of these disease mechanisms,” said Dr. Snyder. “If we highlight what mechanisms might be connected in disease processes, if we can understand these disease processes, then we can develop therapies.”

 

April 13, 2014 Posted by | Aging, Experiment, Health Issues, Statistics, Survival | , , | Leave a comment

Ten Strategies to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease

I’m always watching myself for any sign of cognitive slippage. I had two dear aunts who became barmy, one in her sixties, and one not until her eighties. Thank you, Hayfa, for this great article:

UCLA on Alzheimer’s Disease – young or old should read
Food for Thought

“The idea that Alzheimer’s is entirely genetic and unpreventable is perhaps the greatest misconception about the disease,” says Gary Small, M.D., director of the UCLA Centeron Aging. Researchers now know that Alzheimer’s, like heart disease and cancer, develops over decades and can be influenced by lifestyle factors including cholesterol, blood pressure, obesity, depression, education, nutrition, sleep and mental, physical and social activity.The big news: Mountains of research reveals that simple things you do every day might cut your odds of losing your mind to Alzheimer’s.In search of scientific ways to delay and outlive Alzheimer’s and other dementias, I tracked down thousands of studies and interviewed dozens of experts. The results in a new book: 100 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer’s and Age-Related Memory Loss

Here are 10 strategies I found most surprising.

1. Have coffee. In an amazing flip-flop, coffee is the new brain tonic. A large European study showed that drinking three to five cups of coffee a day in midlife cut Alzheimer’s risk 65% in late life. University of South Florida researcher Gary Arendash credits caffeine: He says it reduces dementia-causing amyloid in animal brains. Others credit coffee’s antioxidants. So drink up, Arendash advises, unless your doctor says you shouldn’t.

2. Floss. Oddly, the health of your teeth and gums can help predict dementia. University of Southern California research found that having periodontal disease before age 35 quadrupled the odds of dementia years later. Older people with tooth and gum disease score lower on memory and cognition tests, other studies show. Experts speculate that inflammation in diseased mouths migrates to the brain.

3. Google. Doing an online search can stimulate your aging brain even more than reading a book, says UCLA’s Gary Small, who used brain MRIs to prove it. The biggest surprise: Novice Internet surfers, ages 55 to 78, activated key memory and learning centers in the brain after only a week of Web surfing for an hour a day.

4. Grow new brain cells. Impossible, scientists used to say. Now it’s believed that thousands of brain cells are born daily. The trick is to keep the newborns alive. What works: aerobic exercise (such as a brisk 30-minute walk every day), strenuous mental activity, eating salmon and other fatty fish, and avoiding obesity, chronic stress, sleep deprivation, heavy drinking and vitamin B deficiency. Drink apple juice. Apple juice can push production of the “memory chemical” acetylcholine; that’s the way the popular Alzheimer’s drug Aricept works, says Thomas Shea, Ph.D., of the University of Massachusetts. He was surprised that old mice given apple juice did better on learning and memory tests than mice that received water. A dose for humans: 16 ounces, or two to three apples a day.

5. Protect your head. Blows to the head, even mild ones early in life, increase odds of dementia years later. Pro football players have 19 times the typical rate of memory-related diseases. Alzheimer’s is four times more common in elderly who suffer a head injury, Columbia University finds. Accidental falls doubled an older person’s odds of dementia five years later in another study. Wear seat belts and helmets, fall-proof your house, and don’t take risks.

6. Meditate. Brain scans show that people who meditate regularly have less cognitive decline and brain shrinkage – a classic sign of Alzheimer’s – as they age. Andrew Newberg of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine says yoga meditation of 12 minutes a day for two months improved blood flow and cognitive functioning in seniors with memory problems.

7. Take Vitamin D. A “severe deficiency” of vitamin D boosts older Americans’ risk of cognitive impairment 394%, an alarming study by England’s University of Exeter finds. And most Americans lack vitamin D. Experts recommend a daily dose of 800 IU to 2,000 IU of vitamin D3.

8. Fill your brain. It’s called “cognitive reserve.” A rich accumulation of life experiences – education, marriage, socializing, a stimulating job, language skills, having a purpose in life, physical activity and mentally demanding leisure activities – makes your brain better able to tolerate plaques and tangles. You can even have significant Alzheimer’s pathology and no symptoms of dementia if you have high cognitive reserve, says David Bennett, M.D., of Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center.

9. Avoid infection. Astonishing new evidence ties Alzheimer’s to cold sores, gastric ulcers, Lyme disease, pneumonia and the flu. Ruth Itzhaki, Ph.D., of the University of Manchester in England estimates the cold-sore herpes simplex virus is incriminated in 60% of Alzheimer’s cases. The theory: Infections trigger excessive beta amyloid “gunk” that kills brain cells. Proof is still lacking, but why not avoid common infections and take appropriate vaccines, antibiotics and antiviral agents?

What to Drink for Good Memory: A great way to keep your aging memory sharp and avoid Alzheimer’s is to drink the right stuff.

a. Tops: Juice. A glass of any fruit or vegetable juice three times a week slashed Alzheimer’s odds 76% in Vanderbilt University research. Epecially protective:blueberry, grape and apple juice, say other studies.

b. Tea: Only a cup of black or green tea a week cut rates of cognitive decline in older people by 37%, reports the Alzheimer’s Association. Only brewed tea works. Skip bottled tea, which is devoid of antioxidants.

c. Caffeine beverages. Surprisingly, caffeine fights memory loss and Alzheimer’s, suggest dozens of studies. Best sources: coffee (one Alzheimer’s researcher drinks five cups a day), tea and chocolate. Beware caffeine if you are pregnant, have high blood pressure, insomnia or anxiety.

d. Red wine: If you drink alcohol, a little red wine is most apt to benefit your aging brain. It’s high in antioxidants. Limit it to one daily glass for women, two for men. Excessive alcohol, notably binge drinking, brings on Alzheimer’s.

e. Two to avoid: Sugary soft drinks, especially those sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. They make lab animals dumb. Water with high copper content also can up your odds of Alzheimer’s. Use a water filter that removes excess minerals.

Ways to Save Your Kids from Alzheimer’s:

· Now, Alzheimer’s isn’t just a disease that starts in old age. What happens to your child’s brain seems to have a dramatic impact on his or her likelihood of Alzheimer’s many decades later.

· Here are five things you can do now to help save your child from Alzheimer’s and memory loss later in life, according to the latest research. Prevent head blows: Insist your child wear a helmet during biking, skating, skiing, baseball, football, hockey, and all contact sports. A major blow as well as tiny repetitive unnoticed concussions can cause damage, leading to memory loss and Alzheimer’s years later.

· Encourage language skills: A teenage girl who is a superior writer is eight times more likely to escape Alzheimer’s in late life than a teen with poor linguistic skills. Teaching young children to be fluent in two or more languages makes them less vulnerable to Alzheimer’s.

· Insist your child go to college: Education is a powerful Alzheimer’s deterrent . The more years of formal schooling, the lower the odds. Most Alzheimer’s prone: teenage drop outs. For each year of education, your risk of dementia drops 11%, says a recent University of Cambridge study.

· Provide stimulation: Keep your child’s brain busy with physical, mental and social activities and novel experiences. All these contribute to a bigger, better functioning brain with more so-called ‘cognitive reserve.’ High cognitive reserve protects against memory decline and Alzheimer’s.

· Spare the junk food: Lab animals raised on berries, spinach and high omega-3 fish have great memories in old age. Those overfed sugar, especially high fructose in soft drinks, saturated fat and trans fats become overweight and diabetic, with smaller brains and impaired memories as they age, a prelude to Alzheimer’s.

February 14, 2013 Posted by | Aging, Exercise, Generational, Health Issues | | Leave a comment

Music Brings Alzheimer’s Patients Into the Moment

I saw this video over the Christmas holiday, and I can’t forget it. I know one of the reasons I love water aerobics is that they play all this rock music of my generation, and it gets us working hard, some even sing along, belting out the lyrics, LLOOLLL, I’m sure we look ridiculous, but oh, we have a great time and it makes exercise time pass more quickly.

This video shows the dramatic effect familiar music has on Alzheimer’s patients, bringing them out of their fog, however briefly, and animating them once again:

December 26, 2012 Posted by | Aging, Circle of Life and Death, Civility, Experiment, Family Issues, Generational, Music | , | 8 Comments