A free teleconference series offered by USAgainstAlzheimer's Network covering a wide range of topics with leaders in the Alzheimer's community.

Alzheimer's Talks

Latest Talks

February 2015: Defending and Repairing Brain Cells

There are a number of factors that make women at higher risk for Alzheimer’s, but there are also some critical strategies to delay or prevent the onset of this disease.

On February’s Alzheimer’s Talks, we were joined by Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton, R. Pete Vanderveen Chair in Therapeutic Discovery and Development and Professor of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Biomedical Engineering and Neurology at the University of Southern California, who has led groundbreaking research investigating the hormones and neurosteroids that defend and repair the brain’s cells. She was joined on the call by Dr. Howard Fillit, Founding Executive Director and Chief Science Officer of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, which has funded some of Dr. Brinton’s research.

Here are some key highlights from the call:

  1. Age is still the number one risk. Age remains the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, helping explain why this disease disproportionately affects women, who live on average 4-5 years longer than men. But age alone does not explain the increased risk for women.
  2. Sooner rather than later. Identifying early symptoms and intervening at the earliest stage of Alzheimer’s development is critical to possibly delaying further advancement of the disease.
  3. Diet and exercise. Just like our bodies, our brains need the right food and exercise to thrive. Increasing movement throughout the day and reducing sugar consumption are two keys to maintaining good brain health. The ADDF’s website, Cognitive Vitality, shares evaluations of hundreds of prevention strategies.
  4. One size does not fit all. There are many different ways to develop Alzheimer’s and therefore no singular therapeutic cure will work for all. Instead, there’s exciting potential in many therapeutic drugs out there in the pipeline, ready to be tested.
  5. Clinical trials are recruiting. She discovered that the hormone allopregnanolone (Allo) generates new neurons in the brain and those new nerve cells can restore memory function and reduce the pathology of Alzheimer’s in the brain. This first ever regenerative therapeutic is currently being tested in clinical trials. For more information about enrolling in the clinical trial, click here.
  6. Researchers are ready for your help. Following decades of research and drug development, many therapeutic drugs are now being tested in clinical trial. The single best thing you can do is give researchers the opportunity to learn more from you. Participate in a clinical trial, or ask your physician if he or she is making your information available to Alzheimer’s researchers.

We’re grateful Dr. Brinton was able to share some of her findings on strategies for prevention and her optimism regarding a possible treatment in the pipeline. If you missed the talk with Dr. Brinton – or if you’d like to hear it again – you can listen to an audio playback or read the transcript of our conversation.

We hope you’ll join us next month when we speak about the research on coconut oil, including a clinical trial, which is enrolling now. Don’t forget to register here!

January 2015: Do concussions lead to Alzheimer's?

Concussions and traumatic brain injury can actually be a risk factor for degenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s.

Dr. Bruce L. Miller, Director of the Memory and Aging Center at the University of California San Francisco, works with the NFL to help with the brain health of players. We’re not all professional football players, but we can all learn something from Dr. Miller’s research.

  1. Brain trauma affects many people. 1.6 – 3.8 million people in the U.S. have sports-related concussions every year. It can also result from things like car accidents or falls. Particularly worrisome are chronic repetitive injuries.
  2. Traumatic brain injuries increase risk. They can cause the release of the A beta 42 and tau proteins in the brain. You are about 1.5 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s, 1.5 times more likely to be bipolar and twice as likely to experience ongoing depression.
  3. Delayed onset. Symptoms of concussions and dementia can appear several decades following a traumatic brain injury.
  4. Get a good night’s rest. Bad sleep patterns are a risk factor for later cognitive deterioration. If you aggressively treat patients with sleep apnea, their cognitive symptoms could disappear altogether.
  5. Can we develop anti-tau therapies? Dr. Miller helped start the Tau Consortium, bringing together some of the world’s best scientists and researchers to find tau antibodies with a sense of urgency along with looking for biomarkers to help decrease the number of participants needed for clinical trials.

Dr. Miller’s work with the NFL puts our fight to cure Alzheimer’s in the limelight – and his research with the Tau Consortium opens up a world of possibilities for future Alzheimer’s risk prevention and treatment.

We’re grateful he was able to share his findings with us. If you missed the talk with Dr. Miller – or if you’d like to hear it again – you can listen to an audio playback or read the transcript of our conversation.

December 2014: Finding Drug Discovery Breakthroughs

We’re very excited about the work that the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation is doing. The prevention work through CognitiveVitality.org combined with their investments at key points in the drug development process are essential in helping us fight this disease.

The ADDF is one of my favorite organizations because what it does is so tangible – focusing on prevention and providing critical seed funding to scientific entrepreneurs conducting breakthrough drug discovery and clinical research.

Together, I have confidence we can stop this terrible disease by 2020. 

Here are some highlights from our Alzheimer’s Talk with Dr. Howard Fillit, Founding Executive Director and Chief Science Officer at the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation:

  1. Evidence suggests that healthy lifestyle changes can make a difference. Over the past 30 years, the risk of dementia has decreased for 60-year-olds, and this is most often attributed to changes in lifestyle.
  2. Exercise has positive effects on the brain. Studies show that a brisk 45-minute walk three days a week for six months actually increased hippocampal growth and improved cognitive function for 75-year-old patients.
  3. New drug research is essential. There are hundreds of potential Alzheimer’s drugs in the pipeline – but the hardest step is gathering all of the essential data both in vitro and in clinical trials.
  4. Dr. Fillit highlighted that while Alzheimer’s research has progressed dramatically in terms of understanding the biology of this disease – the science of finding a cure is far behind. The most powerful thing people can do is help fund the research and share awareness for prevention.
  5. Visiting www.cognitivevitality.org is one great way to sift through the research on prevention to learn what’s real and what’s hype.

If you missed the talk with Dr. Fillit – or if you’d like to hear it again – you can listen to an audio playback or read the transcript of this conversation on the importance of prevention methods and drug discovery.

November 2014: Building Dementia-Friendly Communities

Highlights from our Alzheimer’s Talk with Senator Amy Klobuchar and Olivia Mastry:

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota joined us at the top of the call to discuss her work in the Senate to stop Alzheimer’s, for example increasing NIH funding for Alzheimer’s research and caregiver tax-credits – and the importance that this be a bi-partisan effort. We’re grateful for her efforts and for joining us.

We then spoke with Olivia Mastry, executive director of ACT on Alzheimer’s, which has helped 32 communities around Minnesota take steps to become “dementia-friendly.” ACT on Alzheimer’s is a collaborative of 60 public and private organizations and hundreds of individuals. They have developed resources that any community can use to raise awareness and support both patients and caregivers. Here are just some of the key points Olivia Mastry addressed in our conversation:

  1. A dementia-friendly community is defined as one that is informed, safe, respectful and that fosters quality of life for people with dementia and their family caregivers.
  2. ACT on Alzheimer’s has developed a toolkit based on research and best practices so that anyone can make their community or part of their community dementia-friendly.
  3. They identified four-stages, and offer resources at each step to help communities come together, identify their needs, create goals, and take action.
  4. We have provided meaningful access to communities for people with physical disabilities, it’s now time to do the same thing for those with cognitive impairments.

Click here to download ACT on Alzheimer’s free toolkit to help make your own community dementia-friendly.

If you missed the talk – or would like to hear it again – you can listen to an audio playback of this inspiring conversation.

October 2014: A Major Breakthrough - Alzheimer's in a Dish

Highlights from our Alzheimer’s Talk with Dr. Rudy Tanzi:

Dr. Rudy Tanzi has made headlines all over the world for leading the team that made a major breakthrough: They replicated Alzheimer’s outside of the brain. Dubbed “Alzheimer’s in a dish,” this discovery gives Dr. Tanzi, his team, and researchers around the world the ability to test thousands of drugs faster than ever before – speeding the way to a way to a cure for Alzheimer’s. Here are just some of the key points Dr. Rudy Tanzi, Vice-Chair of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, addressed in our conversation:

  1. Essentially, Dr. Tanzi’s team created a model of the brain using a 3D matrix of gel. Six weeks after introducing genes to make amyloid from human stem cells, there was evidence of full-blown plaques. A little later, tangles appeared – just like those that occur in the brain. For the first time, Alzheimer’s pathology from amyloid to tangles was captured in a dish.
  2. Never before has the precise pathology of Alzheimer’s disease been replicated.
  3. With “Alzheimer’s in a dish,” we can now start screening potential drugs 10 times faster and cheaper than ever before. Dr. Tanzi plans to begin testing thousands of drugs that are currently being investigated.
  4. Prevention trials can take years and be extremely expensive. And, by the time a pharmaceutical company is done with a trial, its patent life might be over. Dr. Tanzi’s discovery creates an avenue for cheaper, broader-scale testing.
  5. Furthermore, researchers don’t yet know the precise right molecular target for preventing Alzheimer’s disease. One could spend $2 billion on a five-year prevention trial targeting the wrong molecule. Dr. Tanzi’s research will enable more strategic spending.

If you missed the talk – or would like to hear it again – you can listen to an audio playback or read a transcript of this illuminating conversation.


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