Skip to comments.Insights Give Hope for New Attack on Alzheimer’s
Posted on 12/13/2010 11:48:12 PM PST by neverdem
Alzheimers researchers are obsessed with a small, sticky protein fragment, beta amyloid, that clumps into barnaclelike balls in the brains of patients with this degenerative neurological disease.
It is a normal protein. Everyones brain makes it. But the problem in Alzheimers is that it starts to accumulate into balls plaques. The first sign the disease is developing before there are any symptoms is a buildup of amyloid. And for years, it seemed, the problem in Alzheimers was that brain cells were making too much of it.
But now, a surprising new study has found that that view appears to be wrong. It turns out that most people with Alzheimers seem to make perfectly normal amounts of amyloid. They just cant get rid of it. Its like an overflowing sink caused by a clogged drain instead of a faucet that does not turn off.
That discovery is part of a wave of unexpected findings that are enriching scientists views of the genesis of Alzheimers disease. In some cases, like the story of amyloid disposal, the work points to new ways to understand and attack the disease. If researchers could find a way to speed up disposal, perhaps they could slow down or halt the disease. Researchers have also found that amyloid, in its normal small amounts, seems to have a purpose in the brain it may be acting like a circuit breaker to prevent nerve firing from getting out of control. But too much amyloid can shut down nerves, eventually leading to cell death. That means that if amyloid levels were reduced early in the disease, when excess amyloid is stunning nerve cells but has not yet killed them, the damage might be reversed.
Yet another line of research involves the brains default network...
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
Acetyl-L-carnitine: a drug able to slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease?
Carta A, Calvani M.
Department of Neurological Research, Sigma-Tau, Pomezia, Rome, Italy.
Defects in cholinergic neurotransmission do not, by themselves, constitute the sole pathophysiologic concomitants of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Recent findings point out that abnormalities in membrane phospholipid turnover and in brain energy metabolism may also characterize AD. Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) is an endogenous substance that, acting as an energy carrier at the mitochondrial level, controls the availability of acetyl-L-CoA. ALC has a variety of pharmacologic properties that exhibit restorative or even protective actions against aging processes and neurodegeneration. A review of a series of controlled clinical studies suggests that ALC may also slow the natural course of AD.
PMID: 1776743 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
I have heard that there is a correlation between heavy beer drinking and Alzheimers, but NOT between heavy wine drinking. I know they are saying good things about resviratrol in wine, possible link?
Alas, too little, too late. My dad (92) is in a nursing home with advanced Alzheimer’s. I saw him in October; I was not prepared for it. I’m stuck in Delaware; my parents live in Florida, so I don’t get to see them much.
It is so difficult to see him, when I remember the vibrant man who did so much. Hopefully, this will work and spare others.
*self-bookmark for when I’m on campus and hopefully won’t get blocked by Sciencemag.org paywall*
bump to myself.
Thanks for the abstract!
I never heard about heavy beer drinking and Alzheimers, although the U shaped curve found with alcohol and coronary artery disease and mortality has been recognized for a while.
While a strong inverse association between moderate alcohol consumption and cardiovascular disease has been demonstrated for decades, more recent research has emphasized the importance of the pattern of drinking (regular moderate versus episodic or binge drinking). Further, there continues to be debate about the potential greater effect of wine versus other beverages containing alcohol. This study shows that regular moderate drinking (especially of wine) is associated with lower risk of MI(myocardial infarction, aka "heart attack"), but episodic or binge drinking increases the risk. Lifetime abstinence has a similar adverse relation to CHD as does episodic or binge drinking.I know they are saying good things about resviratrol in wine, possible link?
I’m sorry to read about your dad. May they get a useful treatment for it sooner rather than later.
'Good' Cholesterol May Protect Against Alzheimer's Done in a now very diverse neighborhood, it's where I grew up,
FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.
Inwood? Morningside Heights? I don't see where it says.
New finding on Alzheimers:
Your Local Food Store May Have the Cure for Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimers affects 5.2 million people in the U.S. and doctors are stymied over finding a cure. But one doctor may have stumbled on a simple and safe solution that seems to reverse the memory loss and mental fog associated with this dreaded disease.
As we reported on Tuesday, Dr. Mary Newport has made a startling discovery. And shes now reported her findings to the medical community. A daily intake of coconut oil halted the symptoms of her husbands early onset Alzheimers. In fact, it reversed much of the damage done by the disease.
At just 53, her husband began to lose his mental functions. As an accountant, he found he had trouble completing tax returns and basic accounting tasks. Later, he had trouble keeping his shoes and socks together or finding a spoon in his kitchen.
He was put on one big name Alzheimers drug after another but he steadily declined. Desperate, his wife researched the why and how of Alzheimers until she made an important discovery. Her findings showed that Alzheimers patients had brain cells that were unable to process glucose. Thats the brains principal energy source.
In fact, without glucose, the neurons in the brain began to die. But Dr. Newport discovered another energy source which can refuel the brains of Alzheimers patients.
The Importance of Ketones
This other energy source is called ketones. Ketones are a fat thats easily digested and used by your body. Your liver converts them into an alternate energy source for your brain.
Athletes, soldiers, and bodybuilders use them to power their bodies through tough conditions. They do this by drinking a type of oil made of medium chain triglycerides (MCT).
Coconut Oil Is Full of These Ketones
Coconut oil is made up of 60 percent of MCTs. Big Pharma has already seized on this. in fact, theres a new Alzheimers drug in the works that uses MCT oil as a key component.
But Dr. Newport says the coconut oil alone may reverse the effects of Alzheimers disease.
Her husband began taking coconut oil twice a day. After two weeks he could draw a simple clock which he couldnt do prior to the coconut oil. (Drawing a clock is a typical test for Alzheimers.) After two months, he was more himself, joking and alert. His focus had increased. His memory improved. And he was more active.
Fast forward two years: Hes now running again and doing yard work. His short-term memory is so improved that he remembers all recent events and conversations with accuracy. Heres the best part: his MRIs show that his brain atrophy has ceased. And actually improved past his original MRIs from years earlier.
How Fat Factors into Alzheimers
Your brain is made up of fats. The right kind of fat is beneficial to your thought process. The wrong kind may actually promote diseases like Alzheimers.
Studies show that trans fats get absorbed into your brain cells and change them.
Renowned nutritional counselor Dr. Raymond Peat points to a 1980 study. This study found rats who were fed milk-with-soy-oil absorbed the oil into their brain cells. This changed their cells on a fundamental level. It made those cells become abnormal. Studies show that trans fats do the same.
On the other hand, Dr. Peat says your brain needs healthy fats to function at an optimum level. Coconut oil is such a fat.
How to Use Coconut Oil
You can start taking coconut oil to promote your brain health even if you have no symptoms of Alzheimers. Its used in cooking throughout the Philippines and parts of India and Thailand. These countries have some of the lowest levels of Alzheimers in the world.
Coconut oil is versatile. You can use it in place of other vegetable oils in cooking. You can also use coconut milk in place of regular milk in many recipes.
But the easiest option is to just take it by the spoonful. Dr. Newport gave her husband eight teaspoons of coconut oil throughout the day. She started to see improvements after about two weeks. Two months into the coconut regimen, he was acting more like himself.
You can find coconut oil in most natural foods stores and some supermarkets. But be sure youre getting the pure virgin coconut oil to reduce your exposure to the chemical extraction process.
Inwood, but we often went to Washington Heights. It was done at Columbia-Presbyterian.
Were you ever an illegal Irish construction worker? ;-)
You are most welcome!
Another angle on Alzheimers:
Spice and Sunlight Combat Alzheimers Disease
Dr. Milan Fiala and researchers at UCLA say it can.
As we explained on Tuesday, Dr. Fiala is leading research in the field of Alzheimers. Hes a graduate of the University of Geneva, Switzerland with an MSc from Harvard. Two years ago he was given the Alzheimer Award by the Journal of Alzheimers Disease.
Hes convinced that curcumin may fight Alzheimers disease. Dozens of studies support his theory.
But his latest research shows it can be even more powerful with the addition of vitamin D3.
Taking Science Forward
Dr. Fialas earlier work shows that a protein called amyloid-beta accumulates in our brains, causing plaque to build up over time. This breaks down mental function and leads to Alzheimers.
Dr. Fiala was the first to show that curcumin can combat this. He found that the spice helps the immune system remove this protein from our brains.
He took blood samples from six patients with Alzheimers disease and from three healthy control patients. He isolated specialized cells called macrophages. These are the cleanup crew of the human immune system. They go through the body, swallowing up waste products. Normally, they remove abnormal amyloid-beta protein from brain cells.
But as Dr. Fiala showed they dont work well in Alzheimers patients. Compared to to those in the healthy control patients, they are almost useless.
He treated these macrophages with curcumin for 24 hours. They dramatically improved. The curcumin boosted their cleaning power, allowing them to remove the protein that leads to Alzheimers.
Curcumin improved ingestion of amyloid-beta by immune cells in 50 percent of patients with Alzheimers, says Dr. Fiala. These findings demonstrate that curcumin boosts the immune system of specific Alzheimers disease patients.
But what about the other 50 percent? Well, thats where vitamin D3 comes in.
Dr. Fiala and his team have conducted a brand new study to tackle this issue. It shows that Vitamin D3 and curcumin together power up the cleaning crews. They then remove the protein.
They found that curcumin helps bind the protein to the cleaning crew. Vitamin D boosts the cleaners absorption of the protein in all patients. That allows the cleaning crew to remove the dangerous protein. Just like healthy people.
Vitamin D3 and curcumin offer new treatment possibilities for Alzheimers, says Dr. Fiala.
He notes that both compounds are completely natural and safe. That means you can take steps today to prevent Alzheimers.
The best source of vitamin D3 is through natural sunlight. In summer and spring months you should opt for at least 20 minutes each day. But during the winter you can also get it in your diet.
Wild-caught cold-water fish are perhaps the best dietary sources of vitamin D3. But cage-free eggs and organic yogurt are good sources too.
You can also buy a vitamin D3 supplement in capsule form. The recommended dose is 10 mcg each day for people over 50.
As for curcumin getting that is easy. Its found in abundant amounts in Indian food and spicy curry. But you can also buy it in supplement form at most good health stores.
Dr. Sally Frautschy associate professor of UCLA says she eats curry four times a week.
She recommends you take one tablespoon or 200mg of curcumin each day.
More on Vitamin D and Alzheimers:
Cut Alzheimers Risk by 394 Percent
Anybody who has experienced Alzheimers will know the helplessness that comes with this devastating disease. Anybody who has seen it in a friend or family member will know the pain that comes from seeing your loved one deteriorate.
A powerful leader accustomed to driving multiple operations will gradually lose command. A dedicated grandmother may forget the names of the grandchildren she loves.
When I read one womans story about how she came to accept that she had Alzheimers, my heart broke a little. She says:
I think there comes a point in everyones life when we pause to reflect on the past, realize the present and look to the future. That happened for me at the age of 46. Id been married for over 20 years. Our son was in his freshman year of college. I was happy in my job and my husband was looking forward to retirement.
In the fall of that year I started to become forgetful which was not like me at all. I had an almost photographic memory. I had a stressful job and worked long hours, so I blamed that for my forgetfulness. I couldnt remember things like my home phone number, my associates names, or on bad days, how to get home.
I remember that many times I would stop at a gas station. After filling my tank [I wouldn’t] know whether I was going to work or coming home. I tried desperately to hide it and became pretty good at it! But one day in December, my husband and I were out shopping. He went to a different department in the store. The next thing I knew was that I couldnt remember where I was or how I got there. It was time to fess up
Kris, from Georgia
Alzheimers can be a debilitating disease that can dramatically transform your life. Its an insidious disease that can rock your confidence and rob you of your yesterdays. As one sufferer says, I feel that I am robbed of any future because while I will live in it, I will be unlikely to remember it.
Its a brutal reality to have to accept. But scientists are offering hope in fighting the disease. Over 4,000 scientists attended the recent International Conference on Alzheimers Disease. And amidst a flurry of presentations, they reported that simple vitamin D may be your best defense against Alzheimers.
Sunshine Vitamin Boosts Brain Function
Sounds too good to be true? Not according to a new study revealed at the conference. The study says that vitamin D deficiency raises your risk of mental decline by up to 394 percent.
The study is just the latest to show that the sunshine vitamin is essential to good brain health. It was conducted by the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, England. It reviewed participants as they completed a series of tests and exams.
Tests included memory, time and space orientation, and attention-focusing exercises. Vitamin D levels were measured from blood samples and compared with test performances.
There are some fantastic findings this year, said Professor William Thies, the chief medical and scientific officer of the Alzheimers Association. He said these findings are some of the first reports of this type in Alzheimers and have the potential to move the field forward.
Study results showed that the risk of cognitive impairment was 42 percent higher in people deficient in vitamin D. Impairment was 394 percent higher in those who were severely deficient in it.
The odds of cognitive impairment increase as vitamin D levels go down, says study author David Llewellyn. Given that both vitamin D deficiency and dementia are common throughout the world, this is a major public health concern.
The Peninsula Medical School also worked on an earlier related study. It too offered evidence supporting this simple truth: seniors who get their daily dose of sunshine maintain stronger cognitive functioning.
Critical research, based on tests conducted on almost 2,000 U.K. senior citizens, showed a clear correlation between the presence of the sunshine vitamin and healthy mental function.
Sunshine is an important source of vitamin D. UVB rays initiate the production of the vitamin in human skin. Vitamin D also helps maintain strong bones (through the absorption of calcium and phosphorus) and a healthy immune system.
According to study author Dr. Iain Lang, the results indicate that individuals with the lowest levels of Vitamin D were 50 percent more likely to suffer impaired mental faculties. In other words, as vitamin D levels in seniors decreases, mental impairment increases.
Getting enough vitamin D can be a real problem, said Dr. Lang. Particularly for older people, who absorb less vitamin D from sunlight. One way to address this might be to provide older adults with vitamin D supplements.
Older people lose their capacity to absorb Vitamin D from sunlight as the body ages. That means they must seek other sources of the sunshine vitamin.
Sources of Sunshine
According to Rebecca Wood, chief executive of the Alzheimers Research Trust, Vitamin D can also be found in foods such as oily fish and eggs. She adds that these foods are key sources of vitamin B12, which studies have shown to also help in protecting the brain.
Maggie Ward nutrition director at The UltraWellness Center in Lennox, MA says the best animal source is liver, especially from cod, herring, and sardines.
Thats why those living in dark climates have these fish as a staple in the diet, she says. Nature always knows best.
But she believes the best source of vitamin D is simple, old-fashioned sunlight.
This is one of the many reasons I love summer, she says. I get my vitamin D from the sun and have one less supplement to take.
Supplement Your Sunshine
The Vitamin D Council offers several good tips to ensure you get just the right amount of sunshine. Check out these four ideas:
Have your doctor check your vitamin D levels. This will give you a good idea of how much vitamin D you need to supplement.
Make sure youre getting vitamin D3 in your diet. Smart options are capsules or drops. To improve absorption, take it with food containing fat. Fat makes it more soluble.
Have your levels rechecked every three months. Vitamin D is a hormone, so it fluctuates for everyone. Seasonal changes also affect it.
People with dark skin need at least 5 to 10 times more sunlight than light-skinned people.
Vitamin D supplements have proven to be a safe, inexpensive, and effective way to treat deficiency, says Llewellyn. However, few foods contain vitamin D and levels of supplementation in the U.S. are currently inadequate.
Thanks for the heads-up. Will pursue with all vigor.
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