Archive for Medication Study

Potential Reversal of Alzheimer’s Disease

Dr. Dale Bredesen, professor at both the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and at the Easton Laboratories for Neurodegenerative Research at UCLA, announced that he may have found a potential treatment for the reversal of memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The push for a cure for Alzheimer’s is strong as over 5.4 million Americans currently live with the disease.

Published in the journal Aging, Bredesen and his research team studied ten people who were experiencing age-related memory loss. Nine of the ten participants had genetic mutations in the APOE4 gene associated with Alzheimer’s disease, putting them at high risk. Participants used a technique called metabolic enhancement for neurodegeneration (MEND), a 36-point personalized regimen focused on a healthy diet, exercise routine, brain stimulation, sleep improvements, medication and vitamins for 5 months to 2 years.

Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans and neuropsychological testing, the team was able to assess the success of the customized programs for each individual. They found that the MEND technique drastically improved the lives of the participants: those that had to leave work due to their memory decline were able to return, and others who had reported struggling with work saw an improvement in performance.

The hippocampus, a critical brain region for learning and memory, often shrinks in individuals with Alzheimer’s. At the beginning of the study, one patient’s hippocampal volume was in the 17th percentile for his age range, but after following the MEND program for 10 months, this specific participant’s hippocampal volume increased drastically to the 75th percentile.

Health care professionals agree that a personalized approach to brain health is the best way to prevent and delay signs of cognitive decline. However, not all scientists support the MEND approach, as it includes treating conditions that could be associated with Alzheimer’s, such as inflammation, and incorporates supplements that are not well studied or do not require FDA approval.

Bredesen hopes to further prove that treating the underlying causes and mechanisms of the disease will help reverse symptoms. So far, his efforts have proved valid, though a larger sample size and longer study would further validate the effectiveness of the program.

In line with Bredesen’s approach, the Cognitive Therapeutics Method™ is a personalized, one-on-one program designed to keep aging minds sharp. The Method is customized to each client’s unique needs and offers a range of activities that are fun yet just challenging enough to keep the brain engaged, thereby possibly delaying symptoms of cognitive decline. The Method has been an integral part of Home Care Assistance’s approach to brain health for seniors over the past three years.

To learn more about the Method, visit today.


Popular Heartburn Drugs Linked to Dementia Risk

woman holding heartburn medicationPopular heartburn drugs, such as Prilosec and Nexium, were recently linked to an increased risk of dementia in a study published in JAMA Neurology. Heartburn drugs are known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) because they reduce acid production by blocking the enzyme in the stomach that produces it. PPIs have long been linked to kidney problems, bone fractures and more, and now research has uncovered that PPI drugs are associated with cognitive decline as well.

A group of German researchers studied the use of PPIs in 73,679 men and women aged 75 and older using data from 2004 to 2011. At the beginning of the study, all participants were free of dementia. Of the total participants, 2,950 took PPIs to treat heartburn, reflux or ulcers.

At the end of the study, 29,510 participants had developed dementia. The research team found that participants receiving regular PPI medication were 44 percent more likely to have developed dementia compared with patients not using any PPIs. Regular use of PPIs increased the risk for dementia in men by 52 percent and in women by 42 percent compared to the group that did not use PPIs.

Three PPIs were most often used by participants: Prilosec (omeprazole), Protonix (pantaprazole) and Nexium (esomeprazole). Of these three, the highest risk for dementia was associated with Nexium.

This study simply proves a link between PPIs and an increased risk of dementia, but it does not prove that the heartburn medication directly caused the dementia. As with all medications and medical decisions, consult your primary physician. For non-pharmacological ideas to boost your brain health, visit our blog “2016 Brain Health Resolutions”.


Targeting Inflammation in the Brain Could Halt Alzheimer’s Progression

Researchers from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom have found that targeting and reducing inflammation in the brain can reduce memory problems seen in Alzheimer’s disease. This research adds to growing evidence that suppressing inflammation in the brain may lead to preventing or delaying Alzheimer’s disease.

Inflammation in the brain is caused by a build-up of microglia cells, which are cells that provide the main form and first line of immune defense. The proliferation of microglia cells has also been found in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, post-mortem, and is a key indicator of several neurocognitive disorders. Individuals with Alzheimer’s also had an increased regulation of the CSF1R gene that correlated with the severity of the disease.

In order to reduce this inflammation, the research team needed to block the production of microglia cells. To do so, they administered drugs that block the CSF1R receptor, which is responsible for the increase in microglia cells in the brain, to mice. Results showed that the mice given the CSF1R-blocking drug had fewer memory and behavioral problems. The drug also proved beneficial in preventing the loss of communication between nerve cells in the brain, a common symptom in individuals with Alzheimer’s.

senior woman holding her headDescribed as encouraging by the research community, these results prove that a CSF1R treatment could be a potential therapy option for treating Alzheimer’s disease. Further studies will be needed to verify the long-term effectiveness of the drug in humans.

In the meantime, the Cognitive Therapeutics Team encourages non-pharmacological approaches to promote an active and healthy brain-centered lifestyle. We encourage 15 to 20 minutes of physical activity per day, a balanced diet, social interaction and mental engagement to promote cognitive health and enhance quality of life!


How Chemotherapy Affects the Brain

For individuals diagnosed with cancer, chemotherapy can be a potentially life-saving option. Chemotherapy, abbreviated as chemo, is a cancer treatment that uses a regimen of chemical anti-cancer drugs. Unfortunately, chemo has been known to cause “chemobrain”, which is when the person undergoing treatment experiences cognitive problems, which can feel like mental cloudiness. Shelli Kesler, associate professor of neuro-oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and her colleagues are now researching and identifying which types of chemo treatments are more likely to cause cognitive damage.

senior woman getting chemotherapyThe study, published in JAMA Oncology, compared the effects of anthracycline, a commonly prescribed chemotherapy agent, with non-anthracycline agents in breast cancer survivors. The participants had been off of their treatments for more than two years and were an average age of 55 years old. Twenty women received anthracycline-based treatments, nineteen received non-anthracycline-based treatments and twenty-three did not receive chemotherapy at all.

All of the women in the study underwent MRI scans and cognitive tests to assess their memory as well as other cognitive functions. They found that the group that had received anthracycline treatments had lower verbal memory and immediate recall score than both of the other groups. Patient-reported cognitive dysfunction and psychological distress was higher in both of the chemo-treated groups as compared to the control group.

Kesler highly recommends that individuals undergoing chemotherapy treatments request a referral for a neuropsychological evaluation, highlighting that it is just as important to have regular brain check-ups as routine heart check-ups. She also mentioned that people should not avoid particular chemotherapy drugs, especially if they are prescribed as life-saving treatments. Researchers will continue to investigate the effects of specific chemotherapy agents on the brain and how age, gender or other genetic factors could influence the extent of the effects.

If you or a loved one is undergoing chemotherapy treatments, it is important to follow a physician’s advice in leading a healthy lifestyle to combat effects of cognitive decline. To boost mood and overall well-being, we recommend eating a healthy, varied diet, staying socially connected with friends and family, and exercising the brain by reading, learning or doing fun activities!





New Ground-Breaking Alzheimer’s Trial

Worldwide, nearly 36 million people have Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of neurocognitive disorders, making the need for a cure increasingly important. A4, an international trial, is hoping to study the effects of the drug solanezumab as a potential cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

A4 Alzheimer's TrialThe A4 trial is taking place in 60 hospitals that are looking for 1,000 patients to test solanezumab, a monoclonal antibody with a high safety profile that clears out amyloid beta proteins. They are hoping to find individuals like Helene DeCoste of Boston, a current patient in the clinical trial. Helene is an ideal candidate because she has no sign of memory loss yet but brain scans reveal a build-up of amyloid plaque in her brain, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Reisa Sperling, a physician at Harvard University and project director of the A4 study, spoke of Helene DeCoste as “a perfect patient for this trial“.

Beta amyloid plaque, which is the build-up of beta amyloid proteins that are not cleared out of the brain, is one of the key identifiers of Alzheimer’s. Researchers are hoping that the drug is able to remove the amyloid plaque from the brain, thereby slowing the progression of the disease or preventing it altogether. The A4 study is the first trial in which investigators will test an amyloid beta-clearing drug among older adults in the pre-symptomatic stage of Alzheimer’s, making this new and exciting territory for Alzheimer’s research.

Another characteristic of Alzheimer’s is neurofibrillary tangles made up of the protein tau that disable the transportation of nutrients and important substances between nerves. Many believe that tau and beta-amyloid are connected, and the A4 study has been updated to track the build-up of both proteins in patients’ brains.

The study aims to find patients between the ages of 65 and 85 years old similar to Helene’s profile; patients must fulfill criteria scores regarding a Mini-Mental State Examination, Global Clinical Dementia Rating and Logical Memory II. For a full description of the inclusion and exclusion criteria and locations that are recruiting patients, visit

Until a cure for Alzheimer’s has been found, non-pharmaceutical options show promise for slowing cognitive decline. The Cognitive Therapeutics Method exercises the five cognitive domains of the brain in a fun and engaging way. Call your nearest Home Care Assistance office to learn more about the program.


Biogen’s New Alzheimer’s Drug Shows Promise

BiogenBiogen Idec, a pioneer in the biotech industry that develops treatments for neurodegenerative diseases and other medical conditions, made news last Friday when it announced the success of a new drug for Alzheimer’s disease. The PRIME study demonstrated positive results of aducanumab in patients with pre-onset symptoms and mild-Alzheimer’s disease, which represents an outstanding breakthrough in Alzheimer’s research.

The PRIME trial evaluated the effects of aducanumab in 166 people in a Phase 1b randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Scientists gathered data for multiple dosages of a placebo versus the aducanumab drug, ranging from 1 mg/kg to 10 mg/kg for 30 weeks or 54 weeks.

Researchers used a positron emission tomography (PET) scan with a radiotracer that binds to amyloid plaque on the patients and found that aducanumab had both a dose and time dependent effect in reducing the amount of amyloid plaque in the brain, meaning higher doses over a longer period of time showed stronger results. The placebo had virtually no effect, while the aducanumab treatment showed a significant reduction of amyloid plaque at 3 mg/kg, 6 mg/kg and 10 mg/kg after 26 weeks. At week 54, there were still plaque reductions at 3 mg/kg and 10 mg/kg; data for 6 mg/kg after 54 weeks is still ongoing.

To assess the drug’s effects on cognitive decline, the researchers used the mini-mental state examination (MMSE) to determine the patient’s cognitive status and the Clinical Dementia Rating sum of boxes (CDR-SB) to characterize the individual’s cognitive and functional performance. Patients who received the placebo worsened by an average of 3.14 on the MMSE after one year, while patients who received aducanumab worsened by 2.21 with 1 mg/kg dosage, 0.75 with the 3 mg/kg dose and 0.58 with the 10 mg/kg dose. This showed significant slowing of cognitive decline as compared with the placebo.

After one year, patients in the placebo group worsened by 2.04 on the CDR-SB. Those in the aducanumab group worsened by 1.70 for the 1 mg/kg dose, 1.33 for the 3 mg/kg dose and 0.59 for the 10 mg/kg dose. Once again, all dosages showed significant slowing of cognitive decline as compared to the placebo; these impressive findings exceeded the trials’ already high expectations.

The trial found that aducanumab has some side effects, but demonstrated acceptable safety for human usage. The main side effect observed in the trial was Amyloid-related imaging abnormalities, or ARIA. As amyloid plaques are removed from the brain, blood vessels can become leaky. However, this was generally seen early in treatment and with only mild symptoms. Another negative side effect was that 22% of those using the drug had frequent headaches, while only 5% receiving the placebo did.

Aducanumab is a human recombinant monoclonal antibody gathered from a population of healthy elderly donors who are cognitively stable. At this time, it is still an investigational treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists caution that it may be difficult to foretell the drug’s impact with data from a Phase 1 trial and small study group. They are looking forward to results from a late stage study that will start later this year.