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Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, July 16-21, 2011

Last Updated: July 26, 2011.

The 2011 Alzheimer's Association International Conference

The 2011 Alzheimer's Association International Conference was held from July 16 to 21 in Paris, and attracted approximately 5,500 participants from around the world, including researchers, dementia specialists, and neurologists. The conference featured the latest advances in Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, with presentations focusing on the identification, prevention, treatment, and management of Alzheimer's disease and associated conditions.

"Early detection has been a prominent theme this week at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Paris. Early detection not only ensures that people living with Alzheimer's receive the best care possible now, but it will also be critical to intervene with disease-modifying therapies, once they are developed, as early as possible," Heather Snyder, Ph.D., senior associate director of Medical & Scientific Relations at the Alzheimer's Association, said in a statement.

In one study, Samantha Burnham, Ph.D., of CSIRO in Perth, Australia, and colleagues found that it is possible to correlate blood measurements with the amount of amyloid plaque seen in the brain, which may help to detect Alzheimer's disease earlier. The investigators have been working on developing a blood-based test for early detection of Alzheimer's disease. They evaluated 768 healthy elderly individuals, 133 individuals with mild cognitive impairment and 211 individuals with Alzheimer's disease. The investigators also performed genetic and neuroimaging testing on 288 of the study participants.

"This test aims to identify unusually high amounts of amyloid plaque (a step that occurs up to 10 years prior to cognitive decline) which holds promise for much earlier diagnosis (sensitivity of 85 percent and specificity of 83 percent)," Burnham said. "It was concluded that this work represents a good first step towards a population-based screening test for Alzheimer's but there is a lot of further work to be completed to achieve this goal. It will be necessary to further investigate and extensively validate these results, which will take a considerable amount of time."

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In another study, Henrik Zetterberg, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and colleagues found that biomarkers identified in cerebrospinal fluid may help to identify the onset of dementia five to 10 years prior to onset. The investigators performed lumbar puncture on 137 individuals with mild cognitive impairment, and clinically followed them for more than nine years.

"We showed that cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers reflect core elements of neuropathological processes in mild cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer's disease, with the presence of these biomarkers [being] early indicators of onset of dementia five to 10 years prior," Zetterberg said. "In my view, the immediate value of these results is that we now know that the biomarkers can be used in clinical trials to selectively include patients with very early Alzheimer's disease and to exclude patients who suffer from other causes of cognitive impairment."

Another key finding that stood out to Zetterberg was that beta-amyloid was an earlier biomarker than tau.

"The results support the view that amyloid changes occur prior to tau changes in the Alzheimer's disease process, not just in animal models but also in real patients. The clinical implications will come the day we have a disease-modifying drug that should be started as soon as possible when Alzheimer's pathology begins to appear," Zetterberg said.

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Susan Stark, Ph.D., of Washington University in St. Louis, and colleagues found an increased risk of falls among healthy older adults in the preclinical phase of Alzheimer's disease. The investigators evaluated 125 older adults currently enrolled in longitudinal studies of memory and aging at Washington University's federally funded Knight Alzheimer's Disease Research Center over an eight month period.

"There is an increased risk of experiencing a fall among healthy older adults who are in the preclinical phase of Alzheimer's disease based on Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography imaging. A faster time to first fall was also associated with cerebral spinal fluid biomarkers," Stark said. "To our knowledge, this is the first study to identify a risk of increased falls related to preclinical Alzheimer's disease in cognitively normal older adults. This was a pilot study and we intend to conduct future studies to examine the risk in younger people who are in the preclinical phase of Alzheimer's disease -- that is, they have no cognitive changes, but they have changes in their brain."

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AAIC: Long-Term Safety of Bapineuzumab Investigated

WEDNESDAY, July 20 (HealthDay News) -- Bapineuzumab is generally well-tolerated and side effects are mild, although serious adverse events (AE) are seen in 35 percent of treated patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD); and the risk of amyloid-related imaging abnormalities with parenchymal edema or sulcal effusions (ARIA-E) increases with increasing bapineuzumab dose and apolipoprotein E-e4 (ApoE4) allele number, according to two studies presented at the 2011 Alzheimer's Association International Conference, held from July 16 to 21 in Paris.

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AAIC: Most Adults Willing to Be Evaluated for Alzheimer's

WEDNESDAY, July 20 (HealthDay News) -- More than 80 percent of adults indicate they would go to a doctor to seek a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) if they exhibited early symptoms, according to a study presented at the 2011 Alzheimer's Association International Conference, held from July 16 to 21 in Paris.

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AAIC: Alzheimer's Prevalence Tied to Modifiable Risk Factors

TUESDAY, July 19 (HealthDay News) -- More than 50 percent of the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease (AD) can be attributed to potentially modifiable population attributable risks (PARs); and identifying predictors of resilient cognition may help maintain cognitive stability in older populations, according to two studies presented at the 2011 Alzheimer's Association International Conference, held from July 16 to 21 in Paris, one of which has been published published online July 19 in The Lancet Neurology.

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Prior Brian Injury in Older Veterans Tied to Dementia Risk

MONDAY, July 18 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. veterans who experienced traumatic brain injuries and retired National Football League (NFL) players may be at a higher risk of cognitive impairment and dementia, according to two studies presented at the 2011 Alzheimer's Association International Conference, held from July 16 to 21 in Paris.

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