Monday, October 6, 2014

Medicine Nobel Prize goes for work on cells that form brain's GPS system

By Ben Brumfield, CNN
(CNN) -- You may know where you are and where you're going to, but do you know why you know that?
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has honored three neuroscientists, whose work is helping answer that question.
John O'Keefe, along with May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser, discovered cells that form a positioning system in the brain -- our hard-wired GPS.
Those cells mark our position, navigate where we're going and help us remember it all, so that we can repeat our trips, the Nobel Assembly said in a statement.
Alzheimer's insights
Their research could also prove useful in Alzheimer's research, because of the parts of the brain those cells lie in -- the hippocampus and the entorhinal cortex.
Humans and other mammals have two hippocampi, which lie in the inner core of the bottom of the brain and are responsible for memory and orientation. The entorhinal cortices share these functions and connect the hippocampi with the huge neocortex, the bulk of our gray matter.
In Alzheimer's patients, those two brain components break down early on, causing sufferers to get lost more easily. Understanding how the brain's GPS works may help scientists in the future understand how this disorientation occurs.
The research is also important, because it pinpoints "a cellular basis for higher cognitive function," the Nobel Assembly said.
The scientists conducted their research on rats, but other research on humans indicates that we have these same cells.
Nerve cell discoveries
O'Keefe, a British neuroscientist who is also an American-born U.S. citizen, made the first discovery in 1971, when he came upon a nerve cell in the brain of a rat that was set off whenever the rat was in a particular place, the statement said.
The scientist called them "place cells."

Sandy's Story: A devastating diagnosis
In 2005, the Mosers, Norwegian neuroscientists, discovered yet another component.
"They identified another type of nerve cell, which they called 'grid cells,' that generate a coordinate system and allow for precise positioning and pathfinding," the statement read.
They also later figured out how place and grid cells work together to make the brain know where it is and where it's headed.
Oversimplified, one could say that the place cells mark point A and point B in the brain, and the grid cells help the brain get from point A to point B.
The prize money of 8 million Swedish kronor ($1.2 million) took an interesting split. Half went to O'Keefe and half went jointly to the Mosers, who are a couple.
It would seem to reflect the half-half nature of their discoveries.
Nobel background
Monday's ceremony at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, will be followed by the announcement of the physics prize Tuesday, the chemistry prize Wednesday and the economics prize on October 13. The prize for literature will be awarded on a date to be announced later.
The Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded Friday.
Two Americans and a German shared the Nobel Prize in physiology last year. James E. Rothman and Randy W. Schekman, and German Thomas C. Sudhof were awarded the prize for discoveries of how the body's cells decide when and where to deliver the molecules they produce.
Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel created the prizes in 1895 to honor work in physics, chemistry, literature and peace. The first economics prize was awarded in 1969.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Remember My Photo: Walking to Remember

Ready for the ALZ walk 2014!!!
I arrived at 5:45am on Saturday September 27, 2014 to the Sparks Marina. Coffee and water in tote, and decked out in my purple sweat suit compliments of Cindy Locke, a Facebook friend whom had made it for me as a gift for being Mrs. Nevada International. 

Checking Walkers in for the walk.
I helped set up the registration table. Once the walkers began to arrive I helped check them in, collected additional donations, gave them there purple wrist band and sent them on their way to meet up with their other team mates for the walk. I was greeted by many smiling faces. Young and old. All walking for different people. Loved ones, family members, mothers, fathers, bother, sisters, aunts , uncles, grandma’s,  grandpa’s, and friends.

On stage with my purple flower.....
On stage I got to represent and hold up the purple flower to symbolize that I have lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s . The tears flowed down my face from the moment I walked on the stage to the moment I came off the stage.  I was not alone with my tears. There were many in the audience that cried and held their loved ones hands.  It was clear to me that this disease knew no boundaries to of discrimination. It only knew to take loved ones lives by robbing them of their memories and then there bodies.

My Awesome Walking Team!
My walking team joined me off stage to start our walk.  We were cheered on by the UNR Cheer leaders. I was joined for the walk with several friends from Facebook. Stephanie Campbell and her husband Scott, there two darling daughters and her parents joined my team.  Also my mother in law joined me on the walk..With my team we gained strength in numbers which meant we can fight this battle together. Supporting one another and sharing each of our stories for the reasons we walk can bring us closer and break the stigma’s around Alzheimer’s.

My family joined me for a bit.
Walking with my team.

The money we raised doesn't reverse the disease yet, or bring back the ones that we have already lost along the way, but it does make us stronger together and I hope to one day say I was part of the Alzheimer’s association and we together raised money and found a cure. We had a goal to raise $500.00 to end Alzheimer’s. We raised a total of $407.00 getting to 81% of our goal. In the Reno Sparks community the goal was $125,000.00. The community raised $112,125.42 getting to 90% of the overall community goal.

At the end of the walk there is a hill. I was able to go on the hill and find the purple flower that had my grandma’s name on it to take it home with me to place in my garden.  Once the walk was complete. I checked back to see if there were any additional volunteer items to do before going home to rest.  This had been not only a memorable experience for me but an emotional journey.
RIP: Beverly Jean Charles.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Join us for a discussion about Alzheimer's

(CNN) -- It is the scariest diagnosis imaginable. So terrifying, it seems, that many people with early signs of Alzheimer's disease dwell for years in a state of denial.
Sandy Halperin, who was diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer's at age 60, is trying to change that. He's allowing CNN to follow him and his family as he faces his diagnosis bravely.
See the first chapter of his story here:
Then join Sandy, Ruth Drew, director of family and information services for the Alzheimer's Association, and CNN producer Stephanie Smith in the comments section on this page for a discussion on Tuesday, September 23 at 3 p.m. ET.
The comments section will open a few minutes before 3 p.m. and will remain open for an hour.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Reduce your risk of dementia right now

 By Ben Tinker, CNN updated 7:04 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
The statistics, unfortunately, are staggering. An estimated 44 million people worldwide are living with dementia, according to a report released Tuesday by Alzheimer's Disease International.
As life expectancies continue to rise around the globe, that number is expected to nearly double by 2030 and more than triple by 2050.
But there is some good news laid out in the sixth annual World Alzheimer's Report. For the first time, we're starting to get a clearer understanding of cause and effect when it comes to this debilitating disease.
Here's the takeaway, according to Alzheimer's Disease International: What's good for your heart is also good for your brain.
More specifically, there is now "persuasive evidence that dementia risk ... can be modified through reduction in tobacco use and better control and detection for hypertension and diabetes, as well as cardiovascular risk factors."
Alzheimer's is No. 6 on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's list of the top 10 causes of death in the United States, claiming nearly 85,000 lives in 2010.
"Given this epidemic scale and with no known cure, it's crucial that we look at what we can do to reduce the risk or delay the onset of developing the disease," wrote Marc Wortmann, executive director of Alzheimer's Disease International. "Governments must develop adequate strategies to deal with the epidemic holistically, including tacking both reduction in risk for future generations, and adequately caring for people living with the condition and supporting their friends and family."
The bottom line is that it's never too late to make some changes to improve your physical and mental well-being. Here are five things you can do right now to reduce your risk of dementia:
1. Look after your heart.
2. Be physically active.
3. Follow a healthy diet.
4. Challenge your brain.
5. Enjoy social activity.
The strongest evidence exists in linking dementia to a lack of education in early life, hypertension in midlife and smoking and diabetes across a lifetime, according to the new report.
"There's also relatively strong evidence that people in low-education countries have a higher risk for Alzheimer's and other dementias," said Keith Fargo, director of scientific programs for the Alzheimer's Association. "(This) can be controlled across the lifespan. Taking people and giving them a better education in grade school, high school, and college significantly lowers risk at the population level."
It's also important to keep our brains buzzing as we get older.
"While we don't endorse specific activity like crosswords or mazes," Fargo said, "we say, 'Find a mentally challenging activity that's fun or enjoyable for you, and you'll maintain it. That's going to be good for your brain health as you age.' "
"If we can all enter old age with better developed, healthier brains," the report concludes, "we are likely to live longer, happier and more independent lives, with a much reduced chance of developing dementia."
The global cost of dementia in 2010 (the latest year for which data are available) was estimated at $604 billion. That number is expected to rise to $1 trillion by 2030.
"With this in mind," wrote World Dementia Envoy Dr. Dennis Gillings, "we can't afford to do nothing."

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Type AB Blood? You May Be More Prone to Memory Loss

Laura Tedesco
How sharp you are at age 65 may be tied to something totally out of your control: blood type. And people with type AB blood — the least common type — may face a particularly high risk of memory loss later in life, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Neurology
The researchers asked more than 1,000 people age 45 and older to perform cognitive and memory tests — learning and then recalling a list of 10 words, for example — and then took blood samples from each study participant. After following the participants for an average of 3.4 years, the scientists found that those with type AB blood had an 82 percent higher risk of cognitive decline.
This isn’t the first time blood type has been shown to influence health risks. In a 2014 study from Pakistan, for example, people with type A blood were shown to be at significantly higher risk of heart disease. Another recent study, published in the Journal of Clinical & Diagnostics Research, identified type A blood as a possible risk factor for oral, esophageal, and salivary gland, cancers, while type B was flagged as a potential risk factor for laryngeal cancers.
It’s also not the first time type AB blood has been tied specifically to vascular trouble: A 2014 study published in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostatis — conducted by same researchers behind the new Neurology study — found that people with type AB blood faced an 83 percent higher risk of stroke than those with type O blood, which had previously been linked to reduced odds of cardiovascular issues.

But despite this emerging — and increasingly compelling — body of research, said Mary Cushman, author of the new study, “Physicians and patients aren’t thinking at all about blood type and risk of diseases.” She told Yahoo Health in an email, “The reason is that we don’t yet know the cause for the connection.” Much more research is required, she explained, before doctors can consider checking blood type to predict disease. “Right now,” she said, “we are a ways off from doing this.”
Even so, Cushman and her colleagues have begun to explore potential links between type AB blood and memory loss. A primary area of interest: coagulation factor VIII, which is “a clotting protein involved in normal formation of blood clots,” explained Cushman. In the study, the AB group had the highest levels of the protein, compared to folks of other blood types. “We think that people with higher factor VIII are at increased risk of vascular conditions, like stroke,” Cushman said. “Since factor VIII levels are closely linked to blood type, this may be one causal connection between blood type and cognitive impairment.”
However, in the study, factor VIII didn’t emerge as a statistically significant link between type AB blood and memory decline, suggesting there’s another physiological explanation at play. One possibility? Something called ABO glycotransferase, which is “the enzyme that tells us what your blood type is,” Cushman said. Different versions of the enzyme, as dictated by blood type, signal different sugars to attach to red blood cells. As a result, ABO may play a role in regulating different bodily systems, including clotting function, said Cushman.   
So should type AB people panic about preserving their memory? Cushman thinks not — at least not yet. “The association we saw was relatively small, and the findings need to be confirmed in other studies,” she said. “However, everyone can work to maintain their cognitive function through leading a healthy lifestyle, in terms of diet, physical activity, and not smoking, as well as controlling cardiovascular risk through optimizing blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes treatment.” 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Seth Rogen, Mel B. and a Huge Audience Surprise

Meredith kicks off her signature segment, #TheList, with a huge audience surprise. Then, actor Seth Rogen and his actress wife, Lauren Miller, discuss Alzheimer’s Disease and explain why the cause is so near and dear to them. “America’s Got Talent” judge Mel B. also stops by to dish on the other “AGT” judges. Plus find out just how fearless Scary Spice is in a game of, “What Scares Scary Spice?” Check your local listings for station and times!
Special thanks to Hello Kitty for surprising The Three Little Fighters on today’s show!
To learn more about Seth Rogen and Lauren Miller-Rogen’s foundation,Hilarity for Charity, visit their website. You can also learn more about their documentary, This is Alzheimer’s, here.
Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer’s Association advances research to end Alzheimer’s and dementia while enhancing care for those living with the disease.
Special thanks to these charities for donating funds to help #EndAlz in honor of Steve Vieira:

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Toronto Film Review: ‘Still Alice’

Julianne Moore plays a woman slowly disappearing within her own body in this sensitive and restrained look at early-onset Alzheimer's.

When the movies deal with Alzheimer’s, they nearly always approach it from the vantage of the family members who are painfully forgotten as loved ones lose their memories. “Still Alice” shows the process from the victim’s p.o.v., and suddenly the disease isn’t just something sad that happens to other people, but a condition we can relate to firsthand.Julianne Moore guides us through the tragic arc of how it must feel to disappear before one’s own eyes, accomplishing one of her most powerful performances by underplaying the scenario — a low-key approach that should serve this dignified indie well in limited release.
Based on the novel by neuroscientist Lisa Genova, “Still Alice” gives new meaning to the phrase, “It happens to the best of us.” Columbia professor Alice Howland is the sort of character who, even without Alzheimer’s to contend with, is accomplished and interesting enough to warrant her own movie. She has achieved much in her 50-odd years, both as a respected scholar and mother of three grown children, played by Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth and Hunter Parrish.
For the otherwise healthy Alice, there’s no good reason why Alzheimer’s should strike now, nearly 15 years before it traditionally occurs, although, as her doctor points out, the condition can actually be harder to diagnose in intelligent people, since they’re capable of devising elaborate work-arounds that mask the problem. Genova’s book hit especially close to home for husband-and-husband helmers Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland (“Quinceanera”), since Glatzer suffers from ALS — another degenerative condition that systematically attacks one’s sense of self.
At first, it’s just a word that goes missing in the middle of one of Alice’s linguistics lectures. But the situation gets scarier when she loses track of where she is during her daily jog. Since Alice’s disease involves short-term memory loss, a number of the tests she faces are ones the audience can take alongside, with the inevitable result that we start to reflect on the blind spots in our memory. Forgetting things isn’t unusual even among perfectly healthy adults, making it easy to identify with Moore, who plays her initial concerns quite casually.
It’s not until Alice learns that the disease is hereditary that the severity of her situation sets in: As if it weren’t bad enough that she will eventually cease to recognize her own children, Alice may also be responsible for passing the condition along to them. This is a tragedy, pure and simple, and yet the directing duo refuses to milk the family’s situation for easy tears. Instead, the idea is to put us inside Alice’s head. We experience disorientation as she would, suggested by a shallow depth of field where things shown out of focus appear to be just beyond her comprehension.
Alice’s diagnosis calls for a form of grieving, during which she tries coming to terms with the fact that life as it had previously existed is now over. She tells the department chair at Columbia U., where she taught, about her Alzheimer’s and is promptly dismissed from her position. She gets lost in her own home and is easily overwhelmed whenever she steps out of it. Though her husband John (Alec Balwin) aims to be supportive, he refuses to let her condition derail his own professional life. Alice begs him to take a year off work so they can be together before she’s too far gone to experience her own life, making visits to retirement homes and making contingency plans (a bottle of sleeping pills stashed at the back of a dresser drawer) for the day when she can no longer answer a series of personal questions about her life.
The directorial couple must have gone through something very similar when Glatzer’s ALS kicked in, forcing him to accept that his body had become his greatest enemy. The pair bring that personal connection to the writing process, emphasizing Alice’s emotions over those of her various family members — although Stewart, whose character steps in as caregiver at one point, gets several intimate, unshowy scenes with Moore. The helmers have made a conscious decision to keep things quiet, commissioning a score from British composer that doesn’t tell you how to feel, but rather how she feels: lost, emotional and anxious most of the time.
Clearly, Glatzer has not yet given up, and neither does Alice, despite her relatively rapid degeneration. It’s a devastating thing to watch the light of recognition dwindle in her eyes, to see the assertive, confident lecturer that she had so recently been reduced to the nervous, scared woman we see delivering one last speech at an Alzheimer’s society confab. After the stiff lifelessness of “The Last of Robin Hood,” the helmers have made a near-total recovery, shooting things in such a way that activity is constantly spilling beyond the edges of the frame, giving the impression that characters’ lives continue when they’re not on camera, even as Alice’s seems to be closing in around her. Just as her kids look for ever-fainter signs of their mother behind those eyes, we lean in to watch Moore the actress turn invisible within her own skin.