The Alzheimer's Association 2010 International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease, ICAD 2010, took place July 10 to 15 in Honolulu, and attracted approximately 4,000 participants from around the world. The conference focused on advances in understanding the causes of Alzheimer's disease (AD) as well as in the diagnosis, prevention, and management of the condition. Highlights included an update to the diagnostic criteria for AD for the first time since 1984, as well as the launch of TrialMatch, an individualized trial matching service for patients with AD and related dementia.
"Researchers rolled out first draft reports from three work groups convened by the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer's Association to update the diagnostic criteria for AD, which hasn't been updated in the last 25 years. We have learned a lot in the last 25 years, and the new diagnostic criteria will be the backbone for research going forward," said William H. Thies, Ph.D., the chief medical and scientific officer at the Alzheimer's Association.
In addition, presentations focused on the increased risk of anemia and seizures associated with AD, and identification of new therapeutic targets as well as genes that may play a role in increasing the risk of AD and dementia.
In the Australian Imaging Biomarker Lifestyle study of aging, Noel G. Faux, Ph.D., of the Mental Health Research Institute in Parkville, Australia, and colleagues evaluated 768 healthy controls, 133 individuals with mild cognitive impairment, and 211 AD patients. The researchers found that individuals with AD had significantly lower levels of hemoglobin, mean cell hemoglobin concentration, and packed cell volume, as well as significantly higher erythrocyte sedimentation rates, compared to healthy controls. In addition, individuals with anemia had an increased risk of AD (odds ratio, 2.56), and individuals with AD had an increased risk of being anemic (odds ratio, 2.61).
"In our population, we found that people with AD were more likely to be anemic, and this was not explained by dietary iron deficiency," Faux said in a statement. "This suggests that hemoglobin production is deficient in Alzheimer's patients."
Two authors disclosed financial ties to Prana Biotechnology Ltd. and/or Cogstate Ltd.
In another observational study, researchers found that patients with AD were at a higher risk of seizures compared to age- and sex-matched patients without AD. The researchers used electronic medical records from nearly 400 primary medical practices in the United Kingdom to estimate the incidence rate of seizures among 14,838 AD patients, aged 50 years or older, and 14,838 randomly-selected, age- and sex-matched patients without AD.
The researchers found that the rate of seizures, per 1,000 individuals per year, was 9.1 among patients with AD, compared to 1.4 among those without the disease. In addition, the incidence rate of seizures was highest among the youngest AD patients and decreased with age.
"Patients with AD were six times more likely to experience a seizure event than their healthy counterparts in the course of the study," said study co-author, H. Michael Arrighi, Ph.D., of JANSSEN Alzheimer Immunotherapy Research & Development in San Francisco. "In addition, the risk of seizures was significantly elevated in younger AD patients -- those aged 50 to 59 years."
JANSSEN Alzheimer Immunotherapy Research & Development and Pfizer relationships were disclosed.
As part of the Bereavement Component of the Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer's Caregiver Health II project, James W. McNally, Ph.D., and Martha I. Sayre, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, found that ethnic and racial variations exist in the bereavement and mourning process among AD caregivers. The researchers evaluated differences in expressions of relief, anger, and emotional acceptance among Hispanic, African-American, and white caregivers.
Compared to African-American caregivers, the researchers found that white and Hispanic caregivers were three to five times more likely to report a sense of emotional relief at the death of their AD patient. White caregivers were substantially more likely to express anger toward deceased AD patients compared to African-American and Hispanic caregivers, while African-American caregivers were twice as likely to report feelings of anger toward the deceased compared to Hispanic caregivers.
"For those caring for a family member with Alzheimer's, the process of bereavement often begins long before the family member's physical death," McNally said in a statement. "These results bring into sharper focus some distinct social and cultural responses to the bereavement process, and help increase our understanding of the emotional costs of Alzheimer's."
Two studies presented at the conference provided information on the TOMM40 gene, a new gene that may increase an individual's risk for AD. Both studies found that middle-aged individuals without dementia carrying the high-risk TOMM40 gene did not perform as well on memory and learning tests. In addition, these individuals had reduced gray matter volume in the ventral posterior cingulate and precuneus regions of the brain, typically affected early in the progression of late-onset AD.
"TOMM40 may potentially serve as a risk factor for AD. However, at this time, this test can not be used as a diagnostic and needs to be evaluated in other populations, ideally in patients at the cusp of developing dementia," said study author, Sterling C. Johnson, Ph.D., of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison.
ICAD: Tau-Targeted Therapies Show Promise in Alzheimer's
WEDNESDAY, July 14 (HealthDay News) -- The effect of directly or indirectly targeting tau proteins, which lead to the formation of neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimer's disease, remains unclear. However, three studies presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease, held from July 10 to 15 in Honolulu, reveal that developmental immunotherapies may decrease tau protein aggregates in the brain and reduce functional impairment associated with Alzheimer's disease.
ICAD: Physical Activity May Reduce Dementia Risk
MONDAY, July 12 (HealthDay News) -- Physical activity as well as adequate vitamin D levels and tea consumption may help maintain cognitive ability and reduce dementia risk in older adults, according to three studies presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease, held from July 10 to 15 in Honolulu.
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