New Research Advances from the Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease 2010

By Alzheimers Association, PRNE
Tuesday, July 13, 2010

HONOLULU, July 14, 2010 - This week, nearly 4,000 scientists from around the world gathered to
report and discuss the latest advances in research on treatments, risk
factors, and diagnosis for the health epidemic of the 21st century -
Alzheimer's disease - at the Alzheimer's Association's 2010 International
Conference on Alzheimer's Disease (AAICAD 2010) in Honolulu.

"With an aging baby boomer generation, the Alzheimer's disease crisis
will continue to touch more lives and create an unsustainable fiscal toll on
the nation's healthcare system - particularly Medicare and Medicaid," said
William Thies, PhD, Chief Medical and Scientific Officer at the Alzheimer's

"This week we saw promising investigations being pursued on a variety of
fronts - avenues that could very well lead to significant changes in
Alzheimer diagnosis and treatment. However, the chronic underinvestment in
Alzheimer research continues to be the greatest obstacle to bringing new,
more effective therapies to people," Thies said.

"Every day, researchers go to work with the sole purpose of advancing our
understanding and knowledge about Alzheimer's, which is the defining disease
of the baby boomer generation. We need a government response that shows equal
commitment by providing the level of funding for research that will get us
better diagnostic tests, treatments, and a cure," Thies added.

Highlights from the AAICAD 2010 included:

    - The Alzheimer's Association announced the launch of Alzheimer's
      Association TrialMatch(TM), a confidential, free, and interactive tool
      that provides comprehensive clinical trial information and an
      individualized trial matching service for people with Alzheimer's
      disease and related dementias. The Internet (
      and phone-based (800-272-3900) program provides a first-of-its-kind
      service in Alzheimer's by delivering individualized matches to clinical
      trials for people with Alzheimer's, their healthcare professionals,
      caregivers, and healthy volunteers.
    - The Dementia Demonstration Project (DDP), an interdisciplinary effort
      led by the Geriatric Research, Education and Clinic Center at the
      Minneapolis Veterans (VA) Medical Center, found that early detection,
      diagnosis and care management for people newly diagnosed with cognitive
      impairment and dementia can reduce outpatient costs by almost 30
      percent. Veterans in the study who were diagnosed in the DDP clinics
      saw their average outpatient healthcare costs decline by an average of
      US$1,991 in the year after diagnosis of cognitive impairment compared
      with the year before diagnosis. In the DDP clinics, following
      evaluation, the dementia care team met with the patient and family to
      review the results, discuss the diagnosis, and outline treatment
      recommendations. Informational material, assistance in identifying
      needed services, and direct support and training from team members was
      provided, as needed.
    - Evidence from three long-term, large-scale studies (Framingham Study,
      Cardiovascular Health Study, NHANES III) supports the association of
      physical activity and certain dietary elements (tea, vitamin D) with
      possibly maintaining cognitive ability and reducing dementia risk in
      older adults. Plus, a new study in an animal model of Alzheimer's
      reported today at AAICAD 2010 suggests that an antioxidant-rich diet
      with walnuts may benefit brain function. Research has pointed towards a
      number of factors that may impact our risk of Alzheimer's and cognitive
      decline, the strongest being reducing cardiovascular risk factors. The
      Alzheimer's Association and others have repeatedly called for longer-
      term, larger-scale research studies to clarify the roles that these
      factors play in the health of the aging brain. These studies from
      AAICAD 2010 are some of the first reports of this type in Alzheimer's,
      and that is encouraging, but it is not yet definitive evidence.
    - Scientists at AAICAD 2010 presented the first draft reports from three
      workgroups - covering Alzheimer's disease dementia, mild cognitive
      impairment (MCI) due to Alzheimer's disease, and preclinical
      Alzheimer's disease - convened by the National Institute on Aging (NIA)
      and the Alzheimer's Association to update the diagnostic criteria for
      Alzheimer's disease for the first time in 25 years. The proposals would
      change the existing criteria by better reflecting the various stages of
      the disease and the inclusion of Alzheimer's disease biomarkers. While
      the role of biomarkers differs in each of the three stages, much
      remains to be understood concerning their reliability and validity in
      diagnosis. This makes it critical that any new recommendations be
      thoroughly tested. Further input will be solicited by the NIA and the
      Association through a website launched immediately after the AAICAD
      presentations at
    - The primary therapeutic target in Alzheimer's disease has been the beta
      amyloid peptide, which clusters outside cells in the brain to form
      sticky clumps known as plaques. Recently, more attention has been given
      to the tau protein, which aggregates inside the brain cells of people
      with Alzheimer's, forming neurofibrillary tangles. Four new, though
      very preliminary, research studies reported at AAICAD 2010 described
      experimental immunotherapies for Alzheimer's - two of which target tau
      directly and two of which may reduce tau even though their primary
      target was beta amyloid. Importantly, these studies teach us more not
      only about tau-targeted therapies but also about the progression of
      Alzheimer's disease. It may be that amyloid changes in the brain happen
      early in Alzheimer's, and tau-related changes happen "downstream" where
      they have a more direct effect on cognitive function. Thus,
      immunotherapy treatments targeting amyloid may also alter
      neurodegenerative processes that occur later in the disease. However,
      this is still to be determined.
    - In an early finding reported at AAICAD 2010, a gene known as FTO, which
      appears to be correlated with obesity in humans, may also increase risk
      of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. When a person has certain variants
      of both FTO and a recognized Alzheimer's risk gene known as APOE, the
      risk of Alzheimer's could be doubled. FTO has previously been shown to
      affect body mass index (BMI) and the risk for diabetes. These vascular
      risk factors have also been associated with risk of Alzheimer's
      disease. However, the researchers found that the increased risk was
      independent of these traits, suggesting that there is a different
      mechanism by which FTO is associated with an increased risk for
      Alzheimer's. We need to see these results confirmed by other
      researchers. In fact, we need to know more, in general, about the
      genetics and other causes of Alzheimer's so that we have additional
      targets for therapies and preventions.
    - Last minute scientific submissions to AAICAD 2010, known as "hot
      topics," suggested that (1) a newly-discovered risk gene for
      Alzheimer's may have early impact on memory skills and brain volume,
      (2) intranasal insulin may be beneficial in Alzheimer's, and (3) beta
      amyloid deposits in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease may
      take different shapes based on a known Alzheimer's risk gene.

      -- Two studies reported at AAICAD 2010 give us more information about
         the TOMM40 gene - a newly identified risk gene for Alzheimer's. They
         found that healthy, middle aged people who have the high risk
         version of TOMM40 (a) did worse on memory tests and (b) had reduced
         brain volume in two regions affected early in Alzheimer's.
      -- A short-term (4 months) clinical trial of intranasal insulin in
         Alzheimer's and mild cognitive impairment (MCI) showed statistically
         significant benefits on certain tests of memory and functioning, but
         no changes on others. In those who showed benefits on memory tests,
         there were also positive changes in Alzheimer's biomarkers in spinal
         fluid. Larger, longer-term studies are planned.
      -- Researchers using a new imaging tool suggest that there are
         different shapes of beta amyloid deposits in the Alzheimer brain
         based on which version a person has of a well-established
         Alzheimer's risk gene, known as APOE. This may be especially
         important because in some recent drug trials the therapy provided
         benefits in people who had certain types of APOE but were less
         effective or not effective in others.
    - Two new studies from AAICAD 2010 suggest that having Alzheimer's
      disease may increase the risk of getting other potentially disabling
      health conditions, including seizures and anemia. Researchers in one
      study found that that the rate of seizures, per 1,000 people per year,
      in a study population that included 14,838 people with Alzheimer's aged
      50 years or older and 14,838 randomly-selected, age- and sex-matched
      people without Alzheimer's, was 9.1 among patients with Alzheimer's
      compared with 1.4 for those without Alzheimer's - an incidence rate
      that was 6.4 times higher. In a second study of 1,112 older adults (768
      healthy controls, 133 MCI, 211 Alzheimer's), people with anemia were
      found to have an increased risk of Alzheimer's (odds ratio: 2.56). And
      people with Alzheimer's in the study were found to have an increased
      risk of being anemic (odds ratio: 2.61). If Alzheimer's also increases
      risk of other disabling conditions, then its impact may be more
      devastating than we've envisioned as the global population ages and as
      more countries become westernized in their habits and lifestyles.
    - Racially and ethnically diverse older adults are one of the fastest
      growing population segments in the United States. New research
      presented at AAICAD 2010 revealed that older African-Americans and
      Latinos with significant cognitive impairment have a lower likelihood
      of nursing home placement and longer survival than White older adults
      in the study. These results have significant implications for caregiver
      burden and community resources. There is a greater than anticipated
      need for culturally-appropriate dementia care resources and home and
      community- based services for these populations.

      -- These findings are particularly compelling since African-Americans
         are about two times more likely and Latinos about one and one-half
         times more likely to develop Alzheimer's and dementia than Whites,
         according to the Alzheimer's Association's 2010 Alzheimer's Disease
         Facts and Figures report.
      -- Another study reported at AAICAD 2010 suggests that the bereavement
         process and mourning experience for Alzheimer caregivers after the
         death of their loved one varies greatly among different racial and
         ethnic groups.
      -- A third research report suggested that cultural and spiritual
         beliefs of African-Americans, American Indians and Whites greatly
         influence how long it takes for a family to seek a medical diagnosis
         of Alzheimer's.


The Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Alzheimer's
Disease (AAICAD) is the world's largest conference of its kind, bringing
together researchers from around the world to report and discuss
groundbreaking research and information on the cause, diagnosis, treatment
and prevention of Alzheimer's disease and related disorders. As a part of the
Alzheimer's Association's research program, AAICAD serves as a catalyst for
generating new knowledge about dementia and fostering a vital, collegial
research community.

About the Alzheimer's Association

The Alzheimer's Association is the leading voluntary health organization
in Alzheimer care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate
Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research, to provide and
enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia
through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without
Alzheimer's. Visit or call +1-800-272-3900.

1:30 p.m. ET

Alzheimer's Association media line: +1-312-335-4078, media at, or ICAD 2010 press room, July 10-15: +1-808-792-6523

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