Friday, July 19, 2013

Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2013: A Very Special Update

(I am a volunteer with the Alzheimer's Association of Oregon. Which means I get all the latest updates as to what's happening in the field of Alzheimer's Disease (AD) research. This is the latest of those updates. I hope it's informative and can help direct you to where you may want to go. - Richard)

Hi, all.  Apologies for the length of this email.  Lots of great information takes up lots of room...

We’ve had some updates from our CEO, Harry Johns, from this year’s AAIC (Alzheimer's Association International Conference) and I just wanted to share some of the information with you.  I’m including some general observations and findings from presentations below, but you can link directly to the AAIC page to find out more about these studies. A lot of these findings are emerging theories and research that is still in the early stages of development, but they show great promise and we look forward to future advancements. Plenty of links to additional information below.

  • You may have seen some of the research highlights that have been garnering attention, including stories in the USA Today and the Boston Globe about the inverse link between cancer and chemotherapy and Alzheimer’s disease among veterans.  You can find more about these findings at  

  • We unveiled The Healthy Brain Initiative: The Public Health Road Map for State and National Partnerships, 2013-2018. This publication, developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Healthy Aging Program and the Alzheimer’s Association, focuses on the role of state and local public health agencies in addressing cognitive health, Alzheimer’s disease, and the needs of caregivers.  A copy of this report can be found online

  • We’ve also seen interest in research that suggested that delaying retirement may delay or reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and in research into online tests that found they lacked scientific validity. An evolving list of stories coming out of AAIC can be found online 

  • Developing topics: These topics, which include last-minute calculations and data analysis, explore a variety of approaches to effectively diagnose, treat and prevent Alzheimer’s disease.  They included a review suggesting that screening for dementia in the general population not yet showing signs of the disease has no effect on patient outcomes, a report that suggested misdiagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease when Parkinson’s or vascular dementia is actually present can lead to significant excess costs, the promising early results of a PET scan imaging agent and the potential effectiveness of a tau imaging agent as assessed by a single subject autopsy.  Preliminary results and small sample sizes mean that further validation is required before broad conclusions can be drawn from these topics.  But their presence on the agenda, and the opportunity they provide for scientists to publicly test their own conclusions, spark innovative ideas, and incorporate new ways of thinking into current or planned areas of research, demonstrates just how important this annual, face-to-face conference is – and how critical it is that our Association continue to serve as the global convener, collaborator and catalyst of Alzheimer’s research. 

  • A report released Wednesday afternoon found increasing evidence that subjective cognitive decline (SCD) — the self-reported perception of memory or cognition problems — is a potentially valid early clinical marker of brain and cognitive changes that may indicate Alzheimer’s disease.  Studies such as these may contribute to efforts to enhance early detection, providing those with the disease and their families with better outcomes and a higher quality of life by enabling earlier access to appropriate interventions, allowing the family to build a care team and seek out education and support services, enabling enrollment in Alzheimer's/dementia clinical trials, and providing an opportunity for the development of advance directives and financial planning.
Thanks so much for all you [volunteers] do to support our mission. Only with your help can we make a difference in the lives of those affected by Alzheimer's.