Higlights of Canadian research and policy news.

This news brought to you by the Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program and brainXchange. 

Unsaturated Fats Involved in Alzheimer's Disease Progression


Monday, March 27, 2017

A recent collaborative team from King’s College in London and the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore conducted a study that looked at the link between brain metabolism and Alzheimer’s pathology. They divided 43 adults over age 55 into three groups: those with healthy brains, those with tau pathology and amyloid buildup but no dementia symptoms, and those who were clinically diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

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Unsaturated Fats Involved in Alzheimer's Disease Progression

Monday, March 27, 2017

A recent collaborative team from King’s College in London and the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore conducted a study that looked at the link between brain metabolism and Alzheimer’s pathology. They divided 43 adults over age 55 into three groups: those with healthy brains, those with tau pathology and amyloid buildup but no dementia symptoms, and those who were clinically diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

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Compound Created that Kills Damaged Cells and Reverses Signs of Aging in Mice

Monday, March 27, 2017

As we age, damaged or ‘senescent’ cells accumulate in our body and contribute to aging; their pro-inflammatory nature creates an environment conducive to the development of various diseases. Scientists have identified several compounds that are ‘senolytic,’ that kill senescent cells, but they often have the unfortunate side effect of killing healthy cells as well. A recent study from the Netherlands explored why these damaged cells aren’t killed and made an exciting discovery: the damaged DNA attracts p53, a defensive protein, to help destroy the cell.

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Climbing More Stairs and Spending More Years in School Can Slow Brain Aging

Monday, March 27, 2017

The volume of grey matter in our brains declines with age as a result of loss of neurons. This change in volume is a normal process of aging and can be easily detected through MRI; however, the rate of decline is variable and “maintaining the brain structure in a younger state may… [delay] the onset of age-related neurodegenerative diseases” such as dementia.

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Drinking Tea Protects against Cognitive Decline

Monday, March 20, 2017

Drinking tea improves short-term attention and concentration; it is possible that tea could also benefit long-term cognitive health through its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In a recent study from the University of Singapore, researchers collected baseline tea-drinking and lifestyle data from 957 participants aged 55 and above from 2003-2005 and followed up between 2006 and 2010.

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National Dementia Strategy Recommendations from Senator Ogilvie

Monday, March 20, 2017

After leading the Senate’s Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology panel, Senator Kelvin Ogilvie recommended that a national dementia strategy be implemented by the Canadian government. He recently spoke at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, stating that “[dementia is] a condition someone can live with for quite some time, provided supports are in place [and] the community [allows] that to occur.” The 29 recommendations of the report focus on improving prevention, research, and ameliorating quality of life for Canadians living with dementia.

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Researchers Recommend a Sugar Tax to Prevent or Delay the Onset of Lifestyle Diseases

Monday, March 20, 2017

Sweetened beverages are a major source of sugar in Canadians’ diets; consumption in excess of these drinks is linked with higher prevalence of the so-called “lifestyle diseases,” including type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and cancer. Not included in this study, but of particular note, are Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, for which diabetes is a major risk factor. Researchers from the University of Waterloo examined the prevalence of sugary drink consumption and its impact on health and healthcare costs in Canada.

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Antioxidant in Red Wine May Slow Aging of the Brain

Red Wine and Grapes

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A well-known antioxidant called resveratrol can be found in high concentrations in grapes and some berries. This compound, along with a drug called metformin, used to manage diabetes, mimics the anti-aging effects of a healthy diet and adequate exercise in the brain. In a recent study out of Virginia, scientists treated a group of mice with resveratrol and another group with metformin in an effort to determine whether these compounds affect synapses directly or indirectly.

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Caffeine May Protect Against Alzheimer's Disease

Cup of coffee and coffee beans

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A recent study out of Indiana discovered 24 compounds that increase the levels of an enzyme called nicotinamide mononucleotide adenylyl transferase 2 (NMNAT2), the most effective one being caffeine. NMNAT2 levels decline before the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, and adequate levels may prevent the development of this condition through reducing excitatory stress and binding tau proteins to keep them in their natural folded state. Researchers bred a group of mice to have low NMNAT2 levels; upon injection with caffeine, NMNAT2 levels were comparable to those of normal mice.

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Neurons Work Together to Retrieve Short-Term Memories

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

For decades, scientists believed that neurons worked independently to encode information and store it as memories; a recent study out of Western University has proved this assumption wrong. Working memory (which includes activities such as learning and retrieving information) is especially vulnerable to decline in persons with dementia. Using microelectrodes in the area of the brain that encodes working memory, the Western researchers found that neural activity of adjacent neurons was synchronized.

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