Tag Archives: risk factors

Scientists have revealed that protein clumps associated with Alzheimer’s disease are also found in the brains of people who have had a head injury.

Although previous research has shown that these clumps, called amyloid plaques, are present shortly after a brain injury – this study shows the plaques are still present over a decade after the injury.

The findings may help explain why people who have suffered a serious brain injury appear to be at increased risk of dementia. Although extensive research now suggests major head injury increases dementia risk in later life, scientists do not know the biological changes that cause this effect.

In the research, published in the journal Neurology, the team studied nine patients with moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries. Many had sustained these in road traffic accidents, such as being hit by a car, between 11 months to 17 years prior to the study. The patient underwent a brain scan that used a technique that allows scientists to view amyloid plaques. These proteins are thought to be a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, and their formation may trigger other changes that lead to the death of brain cells.

The team also scanned the brains of healthy volunteers, and people with Alzheimer’s disease. The patients with head injury were found to have more amyloid plaques than the healthy volunteers, but fewer than those with Alzheimer’s disease.

In the head injury patients, the amyloid plaques were found to be centred mainly in two brain areas: the posterior cingulate cortex – a highly active area in the centre of the brain involved in controlling attention and memory, and the cerebellum – a region at the base of the brain involved in motor control and coordination.

In a second part of the study, the team assessed damage to so-called white matter. This is the ‘wiring’ of the brain, and enables brain cells to communicate with each other. The results showed that amyloid plaque levels in the posterior cingulate cortex were related to the amount of white matter damage, suggesting that injury to the brain’s wiring may be linked to the formation of amyloid plaques.

Source: Imperial College London

Men taking androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) for prostate cancer were almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in the years that followed than those who didn’t undergo the therapy, an analysis of medical records from two large hospital systems has shown. Men with the longest durations of ADT were even more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

The findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, do not prove that ADT increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. But the authors say they clearly point to that possibility, and are consistent with other evidence that low levels of testosterone may weaken the aging brain’s resistance to Alzheimer’s.

For the study, researchers evaluated two large sets of medical records, one from the Stanford health system and the other from Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City. The researchers scanned the records of 1.8 million patients from Stanford Health Care, and, through a prior institutional research agreement, 3.7 million patients from Mount Sinai Hospital.

Among this cohort, they identified about 9,000 prostate cancer patients at each institution, 16,888 of whom had non-metastatic prostate cancer. A total of 2,397 had been treated with androgen deprivation therapy. The researchers compared these ADT patients with a control group of non-ADT prostate cancer patients, matched according to age and other factors.

Using two different methods of statistical analysis, the team showed that the ADT group, compared to the control group, had significantly more Alzheimer’s diagnoses in the years following the initiation of androgen-lowering therapy. By the most sophisticated measure, members of the ADT group were about 88 percent more likely to get Alzheimer’s.

Source: Penn Medicine

Researchers have the first conclusive proof that changes to lifestyle among the over-60s can slow mental decline – raising the prospects of dementia prevention programmes that cut your risk of the disease.

Findings from a two-year study of more than 1,200 60 to 77-year-olds in Finland, published in The Lancet medical journal, reveal that a group who received thorough advice about diet, regular exercise sessions, brain training and health check-ups performed better in cognitive tests than a group who received only the standard medical advice.

The results are significant, as it is believed to be the first randomised and controlled trial to conclusively demonstrate that keeping the body healthy in later life also benefits the brain. The participants will now be followed up over seven years to see if those who received the intensive healthcare intervention are less likely to develop dementia.

Overall scores in mental tests after two years were 25 per cent better in the group who received the intensive health programme. In particular areas they were even more striking. Scores for executive functioning – the brain’s ability to organise thought processes – were 83 per cent higher in the intervention group, while mental processing speeds were 150 per cent higher. All participants in the trial were judged to have a high risk of dementia at the start.

The study’s lead investigator is Miia Kivipelto of the Karolinska Instituet, Sweden, who is also the coordinator of the JPND-supported MIND-AD project which is developing multinational strategies for multi-modal preventive trials for Alzheimer’s Disease.

Source:  The Independent

The EU Joint Programme – Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND) has announced a EUR 30 million call for neurodegenerative disease research topped-up with EUR 10 million from the Horizon 2020 framework programme for research and innovation of the European Union.

Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are a truly global challenge.  Most of these diseases remain incurable and are strongly linked with aging populations. Dementias alone affect more than 7 million people in Europe and their care is estimated to cost  EUR 130 billion a year. The challenge facing the world of diagnosing, treating and caring for people affected by neurodegenerative diseases is extremely daunting and no single country alone has the expertise or resources necessary to tackle all of the big questions in this area.

JPND was established in 2009 to enable participating EU Member States to work together on the challenge of age-related neurodegenerative diseases, in particular Alzheimer’s. In the past five years, tremendous progress has been made by JPND in terms of increasing coordination, collaboration and alignment between national research programmes and projects related to neurodegenerative diseases.  This has resulted in an unprecedented mobilization of human resources, actions, funding and awareness to tackle this problem which no country can address alone.

JPND have announced a major new cohesive action with the European Commission, entitled ‘JPcofuND’. The initiative expects to launch a joint transnational call for proposals in January 2015 aimed at supporting international research collaborations in three JPND priority areas:  Longitudinal Cohorts, Animal and Cell Models, Risk and Protective Factors. This initiative will see more than EUR 30 million coming from the JPND member countries being made available, with an additional EUR 10 million European Commission “topping up” fund.

According to Professor Philippe Amouyel, Chair of the JPND Management Board

“this unique co-funded initiative further establishes concrete synergies with Horizon 2020 to address this global threat.Thisis a significant scale-up of implementation of the JPND research strategy, and a major step forward towards the realisation of a “European Research Area” dedicated to neurodegenerative disease research – an issue central to the joint programming concept.

European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas said:

“The EU Joint Programming approach tackles some of the major challenges we face as a society. Thanks to this new co-funded initiative of JPND and the European Commission, top European researchers will be working together to help the millions of people who suffer from Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. By making research more efficient and avoiding the duplication of work, this initiative will increase the prospects of real progress in the prevention and treatment of these diseases, as well as in patient care.”

A pre-call announcement, with the indicative titles of each topic, was made recently on the JPND website.  Further detail will be provided on this page on the call launch date in January 2015.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No. 643417 – JPcofuND

Media enquiries should be directed to:

Derick Mitchell

[email protected]jpnd.eu

+353 1 442 9015

Experts in innovation in care and risk reduction recently met at the third Global Dementia Legacy event in Japan to explore how new technology can improve the lives of those with dementia, as well as looking at whether lifestyle choices can reduce the risk of developing dementia.

JPND chair, Philippe Amouyel presented JPND approaches in this area on day two of the conference. His slides can be viewed at the link below.

The fourth, and final legacy event will take place in Washington, DC, USA in February 2015.

The EU Joint Programme – Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND) will shortly begin a major new cohesive action with the European Commission – the first concrete synergy between JPND and Horizon 2020 designed to address the global threat of neurodegenerative diseases.

As part of this new initiative, JPND will launch a joint transnational call for proposals in January 2015 aimed at supporting transnational research collaborations in three JPND priority areas:

  • Longitudinal Cohorts
  • Advanced Experimental Models
  • Risk and Protective Factors

The aim of the call is to support a limited number of ambitious, high level, innovative, multi-national and multi-disciplinary collaborative research projects that will add value to the respective research areas.

The call will see more than 30 million euro being made available by JPND member countries, including a significant additional European Commission “topping up” component of up to 30%.

This will be a 2-step call, anticipated to launch in early January 2015, with a likely first stage (pre-proposal submission) deadline of March 2015.

Further detail will be provided at the time of the call launch date in January 2015. However, the indicative titles of each call topic are provided below:

Topic 1: Genetic, epigenetic and environmental risk and protective factors of neurodegenerative diseases:

Due to the phenomenal number of high quality proposals received but unsupported under the 2012 JPND joint transnational call, JPND is re-launching a call topic in this area. Examples of areas covered under this topic again include identification of novel genetic, epigenetic and environmental risk and protective factors associated with neurodegenerative disorders in animal, cell and human studies.

Topic 2: Longitudinal cohorts in neurodegenerative disease research:

The key priority under this topic will be to enhance the capabilities of existing longitudinal cohort studies, or linking related studies to address key questions through a synergistic approach. This topic will aim to build upon the report of the JPND Action Group in this area as well as referencing the ongoing work of the JPND Working Groups, supported under the 2014 JPND “rapid action” call.

Topic 3: Advanced experimental models of neurodegenerative diseases:

This topic will focus on the encouragement of a next generation of reliable and well characterized animal and cell models for neurodegenerative diseases, building upon the report of the JPND Action Group in this area. This may include the development of novel animal models for specific diseases to better reproduce the complexity of the clinical features of the disease in humans, the enhancement of existing animal models (e.g. by fostering a deeper characterization of the phenotypes and pathologies), and the exploitation of novel (or the improvement of existing) neuronal, neuronal-like cells or inducible pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, generated from different sources.

Please Note: 

  • Proposals are not limited to each topic, and may cover two or more topics.
  • JPND countries may support one, two or three call topics so applicants will need to take this into consideration.
  • Call applicants are encouraged to take advantage of the JPND online partnering tool to showcase their research group’s expertise, search for appropriate partners and pitch call-related ideas. An improved, multi-lingual version of the pilot tool is now available here.
  • All information regarding future JPND Call topics is indicative and subject to change.
  • Final call information will be published on the JPND website.

The JPND diseases are:
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other dementias, Parkinson’s disease (PD) and PD‐related disorders, Prion disease, Motor neurone diseases (MND), Huntington’s disease (HD), Spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA), Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA)