Fighting Alzheimer’s With New Drug Compound

Background

  • The tau protein allows the nervous system to operate normally.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is rooted in degeneration of neurons to the brain.
  • For some, toxic ‘tangles’ accumulate in the tau protein, and the brain loses synapses. This causes memory disorders to occur.

Via Washington University School Of Medicine

An encouraging article published by Tamara Bhandari details a synthetic molecule tested on mice and monkeys that fights against toxic tau proteins.

The findings suggest that the molecule – known as an antisense oligonucleotide – potentially could treat neurodegenerative diseases characterized by abnormal tau, including Alzheimer’s.

“We’ve shown that this molecule lowers levels of the tau protein, preventing and, in some cases, reversing the neurological damage,” said Timothy Miller, MD, PhD, the David Clayson Professor of Neurology and the study’s senior author. “This compound is the first that has been shown to reverse tau-related damage to the brain that also has the potential to be used as a therapeutic in people.”

Via St. Louis Business Journal

We first learned of this story through Diana Barr’s article in the St. Louis Business Journal’s Health Care section. Brooking Park anxiously awaits more details. Barr concludes,  “Human trials of oligonucleotides are underway for several other neurological diseases.”

Thank You, Washington University

On behalf of all the loved ones suffering from a devasting neurological disease worldwide, in the St. Andrew’s Network, or here at home at Brooking Park, we send our full support and gratitude for your research.

Brooking Park has been linked to Wash U in the past. Recently, the newly-developed Come Sing With Us program sang for the Brooking Park Memory Care unit. We’ve also been involved directly with School Of Medicine research through their KARE program.

Alzheimer’s In The News

This month, exclusive footage from a forthcoming PBS documentary Alzheimer’s: Every Minute Counts debuted on NextAvenue.org.

The clip focuses on tips offered by Dr. Rudolph Tanzi (Harvard Medical School) to reduce the spread of memory loss. His advice includes the usual suspects: maintaining a healthy diet, getting exercise, and (our favorite) getting 7-8 hours of deep sleep per night.

The Brooking Park team felt especially compelled to share this video in relation to our October post about the (in)effectiveness of popular brain games. Dr. Tanzi touches on this topic:

So I tell people, ‘when you’re getting ready for retirement, you have to equally think of a financial reserve, and a synaptic reserve’….And that really means learning new things. It doesn’t mean playing brain games, which could just help focus, but not really make new synapses

His analogy contrasts New York Times crossword puzzles from Monday through Thursday – which only helps focus, versus the weekend crosswords that require the solver to apply what they’ve learned during the week from the weekday puzzles.
Check out the four-minute video below:

The 60-minute documentary premiers January 25, 2017, at 9pm CST on PBS.
As a New Year’s resolution, challenge yourself: replace red meat with fish, find ways to reduce stress, and stay socially and intellectually active!

Do Brain Games Work?

Between 2014 and 2016, scientists argued whether brain games actually improved (or help prevent the decline of) cognitive functioning.

Despite the growing popularity of apps designed to sharpen the mind, such as Lumosity, scientists conclude that these brain training puzzles fail to deliver claims of improved memory.

The Brooking Park team learned of this story from NPR’s Jon Hamilton, who often covers brain-related stories. You can find Hamilton’s article here or visit SAGE journals to read the full findings (abstract).

Brain training is appealing in part because it seems to provide a quick way to enhance cognition relative to the sustained investment required by education and skill acquisition. Practicing a cognitive task consistently improves performance on that task and closely related tasks, but the available evidence that such training generalizes to other tasks or to real-world performance is not compelling.
(Source: SAGE)

In conclusion, as much as we’re rooting for technology to drive medical advances, the answers are not always neatly wrapped up in a fun app. Make sure you’re staying intellectually, physically, and socially active!