US government approves $122 million increase in funding for Alzheimer’s

Posted under Blog on January 16th, 2014 by Editorial Team / No Comments

Earlier this week the United States government recognised the critical need to address the Alzheimer’s epidemic by approving a funding increase of $122 million. This is the largest ever increase in the US for funding dedicated to Alzheimer’s and dementia.

"By allotting $122 million to Alzheimer's research, care and support services, President Obama and Congress are acknowledging the magnitude of the Alzheimer's crisis and need for greater investment," said Robert Egge, Alzheimer's Association's vice president of public policy.

The increase in funding for Alzheimer’s disease is mostly allocated to research into new treatments, with more than $100 million assigned to the National Institute on Aging. The work of caregivers has also been recognised, as over $13 million has been designated to expanding home and community-based caregiver services. The remaining sum goes towards raising awareness and community outreach programmes.

Additionally, the National Institute of Health’s BRAIN initiative will receive $30 million to aid brain research. The project attempts to increase our understanding of the human brain that could impact several neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s.

There are currently more than five million Americans living with Alzheimer's disease, and that number is expected to grow to as many as 16 million by 2050, according the Alzheimer's Association 2013 Facts & Figures report. It is estimated that Alzheimer's costs the US $203 billion annually, with projections that it could reach $1.2 trillion by 2050.

Tags: Alzheimer's funding, Brain, Fiscal budget, Obama, US

Test for early signs of Alzheimer’s

Posted under Blog on January 13th, 2014 by Editorial Team / No Comments

A new test has been developed that researchers claim can spot the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Completed online or by hand, the 15-minute assessment can be taken at home and tests language ability, reasoning, problem-solving skills and memory.

Currently Alzheimer’s is mainly diagnosed through in depth cognitive testing. But researchers at Ohio State University, who developed the simple test, said it worked equally well. While the test cannot diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, it does flag up problems to doctors, which they can then monitor over time. You can view the original article that was published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences.

The test allows for quick and easy checks that could be administered once in a while to large numbers of people. “We can give the test periodically and, the moment we notice any change in cognitive ability, we can intervene much more rapidly,” said Dr Douglas Scharre, who led the project.

The team visited 45 community events in the US where they asked people to take the test. Of the 1,047 over-50s who participated, 28 percent were identified as having some form of cognitive impairment. Participants were tested on what date it was, their verbal fluency, simple calculations and reasoning. They were also asked to draw to assess their spatial awareness and memory.

Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, Dr Simon Ridley, said: “Further research is needed to confirm whether the test would be suitable to assess and track changes in people’s memory and thinking skills.” Although commending the initiative, Dr Ridley noted that people who are worried about their memory should seek advice from a doctor rather than attempting self-diagnosis with a test at home.

You can view the test here.

Tags: Alzheimer's, Alzheimer's test, Ohio State University

Study suggests potential benefits of vitamin E for people with Alzheimer’s

Posted under Blog on January 3rd, 2014 by Editorial Team / No Comments

Vitamin E may help people with dementia carry out everyday tasks for longer, according to a new study.

The study, published in the journal JAMA, found that in patients with mild to moderate forms of the disorder, a daily dose of 2,000 UIs of vitamin E slowed the functional decline of Alzheimer’s.

The study was carried out by researchers from the Minneapolis VA Health Care System who split a group of 613 Alzheimer’s patients at 14 Veterans Affairs medical centers into four groups. The participants received either a daily dose of vitamin E, a dementia drug treatment called memantine, a vitamin E-memantine combination or a placebo. 

Over the follow-up time of 2.3 years, the researchers found that those who received vitamin E showed a slower decline in their ability to perform daily activities such as planning, shopping and cooking, than those who received the placebo. They also needed less help from caregivers per day, the researchers said.

While the findings are promising, the study did not show any benefit in reducing cognitive decline or memory loss.  

Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development, Alzheimer’s Society, said: “While this study into the link between vitamin E intake and reduction in functional decline is of interest, it is by no means conclusive. More research is needed to see if vitamin E really does have benefits for people with dementia, and whether it would be safe to be taking such a high dose on a daily basis”. 

Tags: Alzheimer's, Alzheimer's society, JAMA, Veterans Affairs medical centers, Vitamin E



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