Is monitoring your memory over time important?
Changes in Speed of processing and Monitoring over time are key factors in detecting conditions like Alzheimer's, according to a recent study supported by the National Institute on Aging, in this case, subjects with diabetes were found to have a 65% greater risk of developing Alzheimer's.

Diabetes mellitus was linked to a 65 percent increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD), appearing to affect some aspects of cognitive function differently than others in a new study supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health. The findings, from the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center's Religious Orders Study, add to a developing body of research examining a possible link between diabetes and cognitive decline. The results reported today are among the first to examine how certain cognitive "systems" – memory for words and events, the speed of processing information, and the ability to recognize spatial patterns -- may be affected selectively in people with diabetes.

The research, by Zoe Arvanitakis, M.D., David Bennett, M.D., and colleagues at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL, appears in the May 2004 issue of the Archives of Neurology. The investigators are part of the institution's Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center, headed by Dr. Bennett. The AD Center is one of 30 across the U.S. supported by the NIA to study and care for Alzheimer's patients.

"The research on a possible link between diabetes and increased risk of AD is intriguing, and this study gives us important additional insights," says Neil Buckholtz, Ph.D., head of the Dementias of Aging Branch in the NIA's neurosciences program. "Further research, some currently underway, will tell us whether therapies for diabetes may in fact play a role in lowering risk of AD or cognitive decline."

Some 824 Catholic nuns, priests, and brothers participating in the Religious Orders Study were followed for an average of 5.5 years. They received detailed clinical evaluations annually, including neuropsychological testing of five cognitive "systems" commonly affected by aging, AD, and other dementias – episodic memory (memory of specific life events), semantic memory (general knowledge), working memory (ability to hold and mentally rearrange information), perceptual speed (the speed with which simple perceptual comparisons can be made, such as whether two strings of numbers are the same or different), and visuospatial ability (the ability to recognize spatial patterns). Over the study period, 151 of the participants had a clinical diagnosis of AD, including 31 who had diabetes. The researchers found a 65 percent increase in the risk of developing AD among those with diabetes compared with people who did not have diabetes.

In measures of cognitive function, only in the area of perceptual speed was there an association with an increased rate of decline over time, by about 44%, when comparing the diabetes and non-diabetes groups. Since stroke-related changes in the brain were found in a previous study to be tied to a decline in perceptual speed, the researchers could not say whether the link between cognitive decline and diabetes appeared because of the changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer's disease or those of some other common age-related condition like stroke or other vascular complications. Studies looking at pathological or brain imaging data would be needed to address these possibilities.


Early indications are that statins can help improve scores on memory tests. If pursued over the course of a longer study, this may indeed be of great interest for anyone concerned about memory loss. Providing an easy to use measurement tool is important as well. There will be additional developments to MemCheck in the coming days which will make it even easier to use. We are looking forward to responding to what our users have asked for to improve their experience. Regards.

Cholesterol drug may help reverse Alzheimer's disease

Some dementia patients taking atorvastatin improved on memory tests

Cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins not only delay the progression of Alzheimer's disease, they may even help reverse it, according to a small U.S. study.

"We found that over half of the patients' memory tests were either stable or improved over a period of one year. And they tended to get better the longer they were on the treatment," says Larry Sparks, the lead study investigator and a senior scientist at Sun Health Research, a non-profit research institute in Sun City, Ariz.

He says the findings may open the way to a cocktail approach to treating Alzheimer's disease, in which people would take a combination of several drugs that act in different ways.

The statin study involved about 60 people in the mild to moderate stages of the disease. All received standard treatment with a drug called a cholinesterase inhibitor. In addition, the participants were randomly assigned to receive an inactive (placebo) pill or the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin (marketed as Lipitor).

Over the next year, two-thirds of patients in the statin group showed improvements in measurements of memory, cognition and depression. In contrast, the placebo group showed the expected gradual deterioration on these measurements.

The researchers are now looking at whether the statin reduced levels of damaging deposits called beta-amyloid plaques in the brains of study participants. This would indicate the drug is actually treating the disease itself rather than just the symptoms.

"All our animal studies suggest that if you reduce the cholesterol levels in the brain the production of (beta-amyloid plaques) will go down," Sparks says.

The study was funded by the Institute for the Study on Aging, the philanthropic arm of the Estée Lauder Trust, and by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer.

Pfizer is now funding a larger study involving 600 patients. And Sparks is asking the U.S. National Institutes of Health to approve a third trial of patients with mild cognitive impairment -- the stepping stone toward Alzheimer's.

If statins can delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease in this high-risk group, then research might be funded to test statins as preventives in the general population, Sparks says.


What Are the Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease?
12 May 2004
Medical News Today

Alzheimer's disease begins slowly. At first, the only symptom may be mild forgetfulness. People with Alzheimer's may have trouble remembering recent events, activities, or the names of familiar people or things. Simple math problems may become hard to solve. Such difficulties may be a bother, but usually they are not serious enough to cause alarm.

However, as the disease goes on, symptoms are more easily noticed and affect a person's ability to do everyday tasks, eventually becoming serious enough to cause people with Alzheimer's disease or their family members to seek medical help.

For example, people with the disease get to the point where they forget how to do simple tasks, like brushing their teeth or combing their hair. They can no longer think clearly. They have problems speaking, understanding, reading, or writing.

Later on, some people with Alzheimer's disease may become anxious or aggressive, or wander away from home. Eventually, patients need total care.

The seven warning signs of Alzheimer's disease are:

1. Asking the same question over and over again.

2. Repeating the same story, word for word, again and again.

3. Forgetting how to cook, or how to make repairs, or how to play cards - activities that were previously done with ease and regularity.

4. Losing the ability to pay bills or balance the checkbook.

5. Getting lost in familiar surroundings, or misplacing household objects.

6. Neglecting to bathe, or wearing the same clothes over and over again, while insisting that they have taken a bath or that their clothes are still clean.

7. Relying on someone else, such as a spouse, to make decisions or answer questions they previously would have handled themselves.

Source: Alzheimer's Disease Education & Referral Center, a service of NIH's National Institute on Aging


Detecting Alzheimer's early
By: Marcie Fraser

As the the senior population grows so does the number of Alzheimer's patients. If you begin to see signs of forgetfulness, it may be worth keeping an eye on.

Rhenda Campbell of the Alzheimer's Association said, "Not able to remember where they kept their car keys or somebody who's having difficulty managing their checkbook or abstract thinking."

Other early signs of Alzheimer's are problems with personal hygiene, socializing less, angry outbursts, dressing inappropriately, forgetting their shoes or coat in the winter, as well as accusing people of theft.

Campbell said, "If they are suspicious, they might be accusing you of stealing things. Someone's been in the house and took my money."

It may not be possible to prevent Alzheimer's, but involving them in simple, low-stress activities keeps their brain active.

Bridge is out, board games are in. It was thought that Ann Randall, who has Alzheimer's, could no longer read. It was an animated, rhythmic computer program that got her reading again.

At least 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease. Seven out of 10 still live at home. Stimulating the memory and the brain is easy. Review photo albums often or play simple games.

As the story suggests, these simple actions can have a remarkable impact.


Increasing investment in the field of memory loss and Alzheimer's treatment (according to Crain's NY Business courtesy of Google News) can offer new hope. Plus, many useful tools like our MemCheck service will be increasingly available, offering a web-based and broadband solution to detection and monitoring. For some in rural locations this has been an enormous benefit, one that we did not necessarily see. Surging demand has brought us past 100,000 page views per month with tens of thousands of users. Be sure to check back for our enhancements and upgrades.....

Alzheimer's drug developer gets $20 million

by Jeanhee Kim

Biotechnology firm Axonyx Inc. says it has entered agreements with new institutional investors for a $20 million private placement, its third such financing deal in the past nine months.

The Manhattan-based company says it will use the proceeds to buy new technologies and fund working capital requirements focused on its core concern: central nervous system disorders, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Lou Gehrig's diseases. Axonyx will sell 3.1 million shares at $6.50 each and issue five-year warrants for nearly 1 million more shares at $8.50 apiece. The increasing price of each private placement--last September 2003, the price was $3.25, and last January 2004 at $5.15--is a positive sign, "indicating that the company is perceived to be making progress," says Matthew Kaplan, senior biotech analyst at Punk Ziegel & Co., who rates the company a “buy.”

Axonyx’s lead product, an Alzheimer’s drug called phenserine, is in Phase III trials to evaluate its ability to improve memory. Phase II studies are looking at its ability to slow the progression of the disease. "We may have the first Alzheimer's drug that is a true disease modifier," says Chief Financial Officer Colin Neill. Both trials are taking place in Europe and are expected to be finished by the end of this year. Under the best-case scenario, Axonyx would apply for U.S. FDA approval in 2006, says Mr. Neill.

The company's stock, which traded as high as $20.75 in March 2000 and as low as 51 cents in late 2002, closed Thursday at $7.21. It was down 6.8% at 12:40 p.m. Tuesday, to $6.72.
Copyright 2004, Crain Communications, Inc

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