Friday, July 21, 2006

85 AD news & new way to donate to research

A woman who frequents my blog who lost her father to AD this year started a blog and a website about AD, both called "The Unforgettable Fund". Through the website you can donate directly to AD research at the Scripps Institute in Florida. 100% of what they receive is passed on. I've added links along my sidebar to both places. Please visit them.

Seems like every time I take a minute to check the Health news, I find new information on Alzheimer's, which is oh-so-good.
Alzheimer's skin patch
Alzheimer's patients may soon get the first skin patch to treat the creeping brain degeneration, a novel way to deliver an older drug so that it's easier to take and might even work a little better.
The patch, which infuses the drug Exelon through patients' skin, headlines a trio of innovative potential treatments unveiled Wednesday at an Alzheimer's meeting in Spain. Also under study are a prostate cancer drug that may help dementia, too, and an immune therapy to ward off the sticky gunk that is Alzheimer's brain-clogging hallmark.
Could anything be easier? My dad HATES his pills. Then again, would he leave a patch on? He's such a compulsive skin picker he'd probably rip it off. Then again, he doesn't take Exelon. And I didn't know that patches had to go through the FDA separately. I guess they have to prove the medicine can be absorbed through the skin at the proper rate. And don't you LOVE these medical terms: "Sticky gunk"? Beta amyloid plaque. Say it. It's not so difficult.
The article goes on to give these scary facts:
About 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer's, a toll expected to reach a staggering 14 million by 2050 with the graying of the population. It gradually robs sufferers of their memories and ability to care for themselves, eventually killing them.
In 2050 I'll be 82.
The other 2 drugs mentioned are:
Two experimental treatments that aim to fight that plaque buildup:
_Leuprolide, an anti-hormone drug currently used to treat prostate cancer and uterine disorders. .... 51 percent of leuprolide patients either stayed stable or showed a slight improvement, versus 35 percent of "control" patients.
_Antibodies, immune system cells created to soak up beta-amyloid so it can't clog the brain....Patients didn't show symptom improvement, but over the next few weeks, the beta-amyloid in their blood rose sharply. Presumably, the antibodies had sucked some of the sticky substance from the brain, sequestering it so the body could break it down.
In 2002, competitor Elan Corp. tested a vaccine designed to spur the body to create its own amyloid-clearing antibodies. That research was halted when some participants developed brain inflammation, even though others seemed to clearly improve. Now Elan and Lilly have both created their own versions of antibodies, a vaccine alternative, and begun second-stage testing.
That's the study my dad's in!

Immune Therapy and Alzheimer's
Infusing human antibodies into people with Alzheimer's disease appears to slow disease progression and may even improve the patients' condition a little, researchers reported on Tuesday.
Six of eight patients given intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) for 18 months appeared to develop better brain function...This study suggests that IVIg can exert long-term benefits for the treatment of cognitive decline in Alzheimer's.
This article gives a world-wide stat of 12 million AD sufferers.

Women with Alzheimer's lose weight
Women destined to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease often show a reduction in body weight many years before symptom onset, new research shows. However, men who develop this neurologic disorder do not show any weight changes.
Ten years before patients developed the expected symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, their weights were subtly dropping....Three possible explanations for these observations:
First, early Alzheimer's disease is associated with apathy and this could mean that affected patients are less likely to cook and eat.
Second, the early brain changes may affect taste centers, making food less palatable and thereby decrease appetite.
Third, early disease may have an effect on the satiety centers in the brain.
Exactly why men do not show similar changes in weight before disease onset is unclear, but may relate to changes in hormone levels with age.
Something to look forward to...I guess...? There are other ways I'd rather lose weight.

Just a link; you can read it if you need it.
Reducing Alzheimer's Wandering
The final few things are taken care of by the Alzheimer's Association Safe Return program. If you have not enrolled your loved one in this program, please look into it. It's inexpensive and someday might save a life.

Drug slows brain shrinkage
My dad's on this one. If the rate of degeneration he's undergoing is SLOW I hate to see what happens to those not on medicine.
The Alzheimer's drug Aricept not only improves memory and understanding in patients but appears to slow the characteristic shrinkage of the brain.....Magnetic resonance imaging or MRI images of the brains of 131 patients with mild cognitive impairment showed less shrinkage of the hippocampus, a structure key to memory function, in patients who got the drug compared to those who got a placebo.

Early steps to Alzheimer's
Memory failure is usually the very earliest sign of a pre-Alzheimer's condition, and a new study finds that "executive functions" -- concentration, decision-making and problem-solving -- may be the next neurological systems affected.
If someone with mild cognitive impairment starts having trouble staying on task, concentrating, multitasking, making decisions or paying attention to several things at once, that would mean they are progressing toward dementia.

I also want to comment on the President's veto of the stem cell bill. I'll be doing that later as a separate post.

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