Mounting evidence has suggested that toxic proteins that cause Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases spread from neuron to neuron in a slow crawl through the brain.
That news sparked some concern among the media and the general public: Could these proteins pass between people, too?
Highly unlikely, concluded scientists led by John Trojanowski, University of Pennsylvania, in a paper in the February 4 JAMA Neurology. Data from a large cohort of patients treated with human growth hormone from cadaver preparations suggest that injection of brain material does not spread Alzheimers (AD) or Parkinsons disease (AD).
Parkinson’s Disease Itself Does Not Increase Risk of Gambling, Shopping Addiction, Study Finds
These results provide further evidence that impulse control disorders that occur in people with Parkinson’s disease are related to the exposure to the dopamine-related drugs, not just the disease itself.
Eli Lilly has been granted approval in the EU for Amyvid, a solution to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease.
Amyvid (florbetapir [18F]) is used as an imaging agent during positron emission tomography (PET) scanning to detect the presence or absence of beta-amyloid plaques in the brains of adult patients with cognitive impairment. At the moment, doctors rely only on a clinical evaluation to decide whether patients with cognitive impairment are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or some other cause of cognitive decline, so being able to see whether amyloid plaques are present in the brain will help the accuracy of diagnosis.
Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 published in The Lancet
Deaths due to Alzheimers disease and related dementias have jumped more than threefold worldwide since 1990, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010.
Published in December 2012 in the Lancet, the study is the first in more than two decades to examine the incidence of major diseases, injuries, and health risk factors around the globe. It finds that while fewer children perish every year than 20 years ago, adults are now suffering more from non-infectious diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
In addition, dementia is becoming more common as more people reach old age.
Brain research in Europe needs a decisive and concerted effort with more investment and clearer and more innovative research and healthcare strategies.
The European Commission decided in 2012 to make May 2013 the European Month of the Brain with the overarching theme A month to make a difference. The Commission is therefore organising two conferences during May 2013:
14 May in Brussels, to showcase European projects in the field and outline future scientific efforts.
27-28 May in Dublin, during the Irish EU Presidency, on European policy for brain research and healthcare.
The Commission is calling upon all stakeholders interested in the subject to organise events and activities around brain research during May 2013. These could include workshops, exhibitions, brain days, science cafés, lab visits, media events and awareness campaigns.
The Commission may be able to support stakeholders by adding their activities to its own calendar of events.
A recent study suggests that the combined risk factors for heart disease and stroke (including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and obesity) may also increase the risk of cognitive decline.
For their analysis, the researchers used data from an ongoing longitudinal study following a representative sample of English adults aged 50 and over (the English Longitudinal Study of Aging ELSA).
In particular, the study suggests that smoking raises the risk of cognitive decline.
The study was carried out by researchers from Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London and was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
Reference Dregan, A. Stewart, R. Guildford, MC. (2012). Cardiovascular risk factors and cognitive decline in adults aged 50 and over: a population-based cohort study. Age and Ageing, November 25th 2012, [Epub. Ahead of print].
Data extracted from existing publicly- and privately-conducted clinical trials to address amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
The largest collection of data from clinical trials in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), representing more than 8,500 individuals, is now live.
The Pooled Resource Open-Access ALS Clinical Trials (PRO-ACT) database merges data from existing publicly- and privately-conducted ALS clinical trials to generate an invaluable resource for accelerating discovery in the field of ALS. Understanding the progression of ALS better can help researchers streamline clinical trials, reducing subject numbers and costs.
The database contains data from the organizers of 18 Phase 2 or 3 trials for ALS. Contributors include Sanofi of Paris, France; Regeneron, headquartered in Tarrytown, New York; Teva Pharmaceuticals in Petah Tikva, Israel; and Novartis, based in Basel, Switzerland.
Most of the longitudinal data, from both placebo and treatment participants, spans about one year, with no identifying information to protect the anonymity of the participants and proprietary interests. The database includes several elements such as medical history and lab results. Over time, the organizers plan to add other features, for example, adverse events and the approximate date of the trial.
More information available on the PRO-ACT website link below:
The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) has launched its latest call for proposals, including a topic on neurodegenerative disorders entitled Developing an aetiology-based taxonomy of human disease.
The topic aims to develop a new classification for neurodegenerative disorders, with a focus on Alzheimers disease and Parkinsons disease.
More information is available on IMIs website at the links below.