November 26, 2016
Hope to prevent Alzheimer’s? Grab the olive oil and hop on a treadmill
By Eric Adler, Kansas City Star
Ann Poehler’s strides quicken on the treadmill. Her feet pound. Her heart races from 150 to 160 beats per minute and more.
A plastic tube jutting from the Prairie Village woman’s mouth feeds carbon dioxide levels to a computer here inside the University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Center. The computer records every respiration while an exercise physiologist coaches her to push harder.
“Can you hang in there like for 15 more seconds?” he urges, making an initial chart of her vitals for an exercise study geared to combat what, for people over 50, is the second-most-feared disease in the United States, just behind cancer. “Good job. Great work. … Hang on.”
At 65, Poehler is cognitively healthy and wants to stay that way. She watched Alzheimer’s rob her grandmother of her memory and life. Now her mother is in a memory care unit.
Like millions of aging Americans, Poehler hopes to escape the cataclysm of the brain-wasting disease that now afflicts some 5.4 million people in the U.S., a number that only promises to grow as baby boomers age, if a cure or preventive is not found.
A national study, published online Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, offered positive signs on what has long been a bleak landscape. It showed that the rate of dementia in people 65 and older had decreased from 11.6 percent in 2000 to 8.8 percent in 2012 for reasons that, not fully understood, researchers are exploring.
The fact remains that one out of every three people over age 85 in the U.S. — and at least one out of 11 over age 65 — now has clinical Alzheimer’s.
“If there’s anything I can do to figure out this disease, to cut back on it, or to cure it, that would be great,” Poehler said before stepping onto the treadmill. “I’m worried about it. It’s in my family. So I would love for this study, or the studies that are going on right now, to affect my life. That would be the best.”
Researchers at the KU Alzheimer’s Disease Center think so, too.
Over the past five years, the center at 4350 Shawnee Mission Parkway in Fairway has established itself as one of the top research centers in the nation dedicated to attacking Alzheimer’s disease.
In 2011, the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health, awarded the KU center $6 million over five years for research. Last month, the center won an additional $8.5 million for research through 2021. The National Institutes of Health has designated it one of 31 national centers of excellence on Alzheimer’s.
Each center has its own Alzheimer’s research mission. At KU, the focus is on prevention — stalling or stopping the disease by looking precisely into how exercise, experimental medications and diet (including a low-carb Mediterranean diet heavy on fish, nuts and olive oil) may boost the body’s metabolism to combat or protect against the disease.
No one has found a single cause or cure for Alzheimer’s. Only two classes of drugs even exist to stall some symptoms, with the most recent drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration 13 years ago. But strides are being made on every front.
Research at KU has so expanded since 2011 — with nearly 1,000 volunteers taking part in some 75 Alzheimer’s studies — that the center is now actively looking to enroll 700 additional volunteers (age 60 and over, healthy people with no signs of Alzheimer’s, as well as those with some impairment) to be part of studies on exercise, diet and medication over the next three to five years.
Fourteen studies are now underway, with more coming.
In October, the Washington-based Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation — tasked with increasing the nation’s pool of study volunteers, thus hastening therapies to market — announced the formation of “K.C. Memory Strings Alliance” among local physicians’ groups, large area employers and others to help point volunteers toward studies.
“It (Alzheimer’s) is an enormous problem. But it is a hopeful time,” said physician and researcher Jeffrey Burns, who co-directs the center and its studies with director, physician and researcher Russell Swerdlow. “I’ve never seen more hope in the field in the 15 years I’ve been doing this.”
Some of what is being studied may even now help those fearing Alzheimer’s.
September 13, 2016
September 2016 GAP-Net Site Webinar
Aug. 1, 2016
National survey finds that a majority of Americans would consider participating in an Alzheimer’s clinical trial
A recent online survey conducted by Harris Poll found that nearly 60% of Americans are definitely willing or willing to consider taking part in a clinical trial for Alzheimer’s. This promising statistic is good news for researchers; however, obtaining qualified trial participants has been one of the greatest challenges in getting clinical trials off the ground.
To address this, the Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation commissioned a survey to examine Americans’ perceptions about Alzheimer’s disease and to gauge their willingness to participate in clinical trials. The large disconnect between willingness to take part in a clinical trial and actual participation may be attributed to a lack of information provided to the public and a scarcity of easy-to-use tools to begin enrollment in the process.
One solution is for people to join the Brain Health Registry (BHR). BHR is a free, online platform designed to speed the path to cures for Alzheimer’s disease and other brain disorders. BHR gathers data from volunteers who have registered and completed questionnaires and cognitive tests via its website. BHR aims to reduce the cost of patient recruitment for clinical trials by building a large online pool of potential, trial-ready candidates. Join today at www.brainhealthregistry.org.
The Harris Poll survey also asked questions not directly related to clinical trials. Additional findings include:
- 25% of Americans have/had a family member with the disease.
- 73% of Americans who do not have Alzheimer’s disease say that if they were to develop the disease, their biggest fear would be not knowing how their family would pay for their care.
- 28% of Americans believe that health insurance usually covers most of the cost of care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease.
- 23% of Americans most feared developing Alzheimer’s disease, more than the 18% who said they most feared having a heart attack and 7% who most feared getting shot. 27% most feared another major economic crisis, while 26% said they most feared being targeted in a terrorist attack.
These findings clearly convey that a lot of Americans are aware of and concerned about Alzheimer’s, but that there are also misconceptions. This suggests that even by making the public more aware about the disease, there will be a growing appetite to find a cure.
Tell your friends and family about Alzheimer’s, and encourage them to visit the Brain Health Registry today. Together, we can make Alzheimer’s a distant memory.
June 24, 2016
June 2016 GAP-Net Site Webinar