A new technique for analyzing brain images offers the possibility of using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to predict the rate of progression and physical path of many degenerative brain diseases, report scientists at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco. The technique, developed by SFVAMC scientists in collaboration with a team led by Bruce Miller, MD, clinical director of the UCSF Memory and Aging Center, also supports mounting evidence that dementias spread through the brain along specific neuronal pathways in the same manner as prion diseases. The scientists employed new computer modeling techniques to realistically predict the physical progression of Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) using images of 14 healthy brains.
UC Davis researchers have found novel compounds that disrupt the formation of amyloid, the clumps of protein in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease believed to be important in causing the disease's characteristic mental decline. The so-called "spin-labeled fluorene compounds" are an important new target for researchers and physicians focused on diagnosing, treating and studying the disease. The study, published in the online journal PLoS ONE, is entitled "The influence of spin-labeled fluorene compounds on the assembly and toxicity of the AÎ peptide." "We have found these small molecules to have significant beneficial effects on cultured neurons, from protecting against toxic compounds that form in neurons to reducing inflammatory factors, " said John C. Voss, professor of biochemistry and molecular medicine at the UC Davis School of Medicine and the principal investigator of the study.
Care Services Minister Paul Burstow unveiled a range of new design prototypes at the Design Council that can help people with dementia to live well, which included a fragrance-release system designed to stimulate appetite, specially-trained 'guide dogs for the mind' and an intelligent wristband that supports people with dementia to stay active safely. The innovative designs will be a large step forward in achieving some of the commitments the Prime Minister recently announced in his challenge on dementia.The Design Council, together with the Department of Health, ran a national competition that was open to designers and experts, in order to develop new ideas to help improve the lives of people suffering from dementia. Five teams designed innovative product concepts and services under the guidance of in-depth research and people affected by dementia.
A major 12-year study based on a Taiwanese population cohort has demonstrated that not only does diabetes increase the risk of developing Parkinson's disease more than 2-fold, the use of sulfonylureas, commonly used as treatment for diabetes, increases the risk further by about 57%. This study also found that by including metformin in the therapy, no increased risk in developing Parkinson's disease was recorded. Metformin, found in the French lilac, Galega officinalis, was originally used in traditional European medicine, and introduced into France and Britain in the 1950s for the treatment of diabetes. It has a long and relatively safe record, is off patent and relatively inexpensive. Professor Mark Wahlqvist, lead author of the study commented, "An exciting aspect of the finding is that metformin seems to be working to protect the brain against neurodegeneration which contributes to Parkinsonismin.
Researchers at the Institute of Neurosciences at Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (INc-UAB) identified the fundamental role played by the Nurr1 gene in neuron survival associated with synaptic activity. The discovery, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, allows scientists to study a new target that could help to understand the relationship between alterations in neural connections, which are known to cause early cognitive deficit, and the neurodegeneration characteristic of Alzheimer's disease. During the development of the brain, hundreds of thousands of neurons die if they do not establish the necessary connections - synapses - with their cell targets. The process of regulating neuron survival and death is fundamental in the organization of brain connections forming the adult brain.