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Predicting real world spatial disorientation in Alzheimer’s disease patients using virtual reality navigation tests

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Vaisakh Puthusseryppady, a post-doctoral scholar at the University of California, Irvine in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior writes: “As far as we are aware, this is the first study to relate patient navigation performance in VR environments to their risk for spatial disorientation in the community. An important direction for future studies would be to explore and identify VR navigation tests and measures that are effective in predicting patients’ risk for spatial disorientation in the community.” Read more in Nature here >

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Early Adversity and Brain Development

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Early life adversities can have a lifelong impact. Tallie Z. Baram, distinguished professor in the Departments of Anatomy & Neurobiology, Pediatrics, Neurology, and Physiology & Biophysics at the University of California, Irvine, determines why. Listen here > Prof. Tallie Z. Baram is the Danette Shepard Professor of Neurological Sciences, with appointments in several departments at UCI. Baram is a developmental neuroscientist and child neurologist and has focused her efforts on the influence of early-life experiences on the developing brain, and on the underlying mechanisms. She is studying this broad topic in two contexts: a) How early-life experiences, including adversity/stress, influence…

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UCI research study links ALS to immune system dysfunction

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Findings show bone marrow transplantation may be a novel treatment approach July 12, 2022 Orange, Calif. — The immune system, along with the body’s central nervous system, may play a fundamental role in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), suggesting that bone marrow transplants may be an effective new treatment for the neurodegenerative disease, according to a research study led by Albert LaSpada, MD, PhD, a distinguished professor of pathology, neurology and biological chemistry at the UCI School of Medicine. The study, titled “Clonally expanded CD8 T-cells characterize amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-4,” recently published in the journal Nature, was a collaboration between LaSpada and microbiologists Laura…

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Precision health perspectives

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Leslie Thompson discusses how UCI’s collaborative approach can help usher in the next great advancement in healthcare July 11, 2022 In February, UCI launched the Institute for Precision Health, a campus-wide, interdisciplinary endeavor that merges UCI’s powerhouse health sciences, engineering, machine learning, artificial intelligence, clinical genomics and data science capabilities. The objective is to identify, create and deliver the most effective health and wellness strategy for each individual person and, in doing so, confront the linked challenges of health equity and the high cost of care. IPH will bring a multifaceted, integrated approach to what many call the next great…

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Research reveals how brain inflammation may link Alzheimer’s risk, sleep disturbance

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Multisite team included UCI, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Wake Forest University July 13, 2022 Irvine, Calif., July 13, 2022 – A multisite research team from the University of California, Irvine, the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Wake Forest University has discovered that brain inflammation may link Alzheimer’s disease risk with sleep disturbance, which may aid early detection and prevention efforts by identifying novel treatment targets at preclinical stages. Brain inflammation, sleep disturbance and disrupted brain waves have all been associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but the interactions among them have not been investigated until now. The study, published online today in the journal Sleep, examined…

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Detection of Brain Tau Pathology in Down Syndrome Using Plasma Biomarkers

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Contributed by Mark Mapstone, PhD UCI MIND faculty Mark Mapstone, PhD and Ira Lott, MD collaborated on research that was recently published in JAMA Neurology. Learn more about their findings: Studying Alzheimer’s disease in people with Down syndrome is a very important avenue for research because nearly all people with Down syndrome will develop the brain changes of Alzheimer’s disease. These changes include the abnormal accumulation of two proteins; amyloid and tau. In this study, we wanted to know if we could measure these changes in blood and if these changes accurately reflect the changes happening in the brain.  We…

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Doctors and researchers encourage people to be mindful of their brain health

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) – Alzheimer’s and Dementia affect millions of people worldwide. Changes in the brains of people with the disease can start decades before the person actually experiences symptoms, that’s according to the AHEAD Study. With June being Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month, doctors and researchers of the AHEAD study are urging people to be conscious about their health and their loved ones. Doctor Josh Grill, a University of California Irvine professor, shares tips to improve and become mindful of your brain health. He said taking part in physical exercise, eating a healthy diet, getting a good night’s sleep…

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How exercise may help prevent Alzheimer’s

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Exercise could be a powerful defense against Alzheimer’s disease. Three dementia researchers explain how it works. NOVA – When it comes to dementia prevention, sleep and exercise may work together, says neuroscientist Miranda Chappel-Farley, a Ph.D. candidate at University of California, Irvine. … Together, they create a powerful bulwark against dementia and represent a lifestyle factor ignored at your peril, says Chappel-Farley, who cautions against “targeting exercise but not paying attention to sleep.” Read more here >

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New treatments for psychosis in Alzheimer’s disease – pimavanserin and the FDA, redux

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Contributed by David Sultzer, MD and Joshua Grill, PhD An FDA Advisory Committee met on June 17 to provide input to the Agency regarding the effectiveness of pimavanserin for the treatment of psychosis in Alzheimer’s disease.  The Committee voted 9 to 3, with the majority finding insufficient evidence of effectiveness in this population. This input comes on the heels of an FDA review last year that declined to approve pimavanserin for psychosis in a broad group of dementia syndromes, including Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body and Parkinson’s disease dementia, and frontotemporal dementias.  At that time, the Agency felt that…

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UCI researchers aim to diversify clinical research participation with $3.7 million NIH grant

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The multidisciplinary team will focus on participant recruitment and retainment for Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders research What is the best way to recruit participants to join a clinical studies registry, and can such registries help better diversify clinical research samples? These are two critical questions that UCI researchers are tackling with a new National Institutes of Health grant, “Recruiting and Retaining Participants from Disadvantaged Neighborhoods in Registries.” The work will be led by Joshua Grill, professor of psychiatry & human behavior in the School of Medicine and of neurobiology & behavior in the School of Biological Sciences, and by Daniel Gillen,…

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UCI wins 5-year, $14M NIH grant to study brain circuits susceptible to aging, Alzheimer’s disease

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Findings will advance development of better early diagnostic tools, new treatment strategies The University of California, Irvine has been awarded a five-year, $14 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study brain circuits that are susceptible to aging and Alzheimer’s disease. The research findings will advance the development of early diagnostic tools and the discovery of new treatment strategies. Xiangmin Xu, Ph.D., UCI Chancellor’s Fellow of anatomy and neurobiology and principal investigator, will lead an interdisciplinary, multi-institutional team whose goal is to construct comprehensive, high-resolution maps of specific neuron types and their connections in critical brain circuits whose…

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UCI MIND and UPENN Colleagues offer new guidance

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In a blunt rejection of current norms, two leaders of biomarker disclosure research argue research participants should have the opportunity to know whether they have biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease . Biomarkers, or biological indicators of a disease, are essential to the study and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and other diseases that cause dementia. Clinicians use imaging such as MRI and PET scans to measure biomarkers and make accurate diagnoses. Blood tests are fast becoming available too. The tests also allow researchers to develop targeted drug therapies. But in both clinical care and research, biomarker results are infrequently disclosed. Insurers typically do…

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Hope Dies Last – Alzheimer’s: A Journey of Lost Memories

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Don’t miss this upcoming documentary filmed by OCWorld, featuring Director Dr. Joshua Grill – Tune in this Sunday on KDOCTV at 3:30pm! Contributed by OCWorld: “Tune in THIS SUNDAY on KDOCTV at 3:30pm for the premier of our final installment of our first season. This is Hope Dies Last – Alzheimer’s: A Journey of Lost Memories. This short documentary explores the impacts of Alzheimer’s disease in Orange County, a growing epicenter for the disease. Featuring insights on the disease from experts like Dr. Joshua Grill from UCI MIND and Deborah Levy, Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association OC Chapter.

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Cell therapy: a new frontier in Parkinson’s disease

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After decades of research into the causes and treatment of Parkinson’s disease, UCI Health neurologist Dr. Claire Henchcliffe is hopeful that a new cell therapy can finally bring meaningful relief to patients with the progressive neurodegenerative movement disorder. A national expert on Parkinson’s disease, she is one of a small group of U.S. researchers conducting a first-in-human clinical trial of transplanted stem cells engineered to replace dopamine-producing neurons that are destroyed by the debilitating and incurable condition. As the brain loses its ability to produce the potent neurotransmitting chemical, that leads to the tremors, stiffness, slowness and lack of coordination seen in Parkinson’s patients. The…

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Visit-to-Visit Blood Pressure Variability and CSF Alzheimer Disease Biomarkers in Cognitively Unimpaired and Mildly Impaired Older Adults

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Blood pressure variability is an emerging risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia, but mechanisms remain unclear. The current study examined whether visit-to-visit blood pressure variability is related to CSF Alzheimer’s disease biomarker levels over time, and whether associations differed by APOE ϵ4 carrier status.

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UCI Generates Preliminary Evidence of a Gene Mutation That May Reduce Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

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Image Courtesy: AARP Through new developments in Alzheimer’s research, UCI scientists have uncovered evidence of P522R, a particular gene mutation that may aid in minimizing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disorder that slowly deteriorates memory and thinking skills in the brain, eventually leading to a loss in the ability to complete simple tasks such as  facilitating a conversation or responding to a stimulus in the environment. With the discovery of the disease in 1906 by Dr. Alois Alzheimer, its causes today are focused on two suspects: plaques and tangles in proteins. Beta-amyloid, fragments of…

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For people with Down syndrome, a longer life, but under a cloud

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The Washington Post – April 7, 2022 The FDA approval of Aduhelm ignited a raging debate, with many doctors saying they would not prescribe the drug and several insurers declining to pay for it. Yet even with the uncertainty surrounding the drug, said Elizabeth Head, [professor of pathology], at the University of California, Irvine, it is understandable why some families, especially those in which a loved one with Down syndrome faces an all but certain fate, “might believe doing something is better than doing nothing.”

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Study links early life adversity, microglia dysfunction, to aberrant adult stress responses, mental illness

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“Much of neuroscience and study of brain diseases has focused on the brain’s neurons. This study highlights that in addition to neurons, other brain cells, and especially immune cells, play crucial roles in brain health and disease,” said Tallie Z. Baram, distinguished professor in the Departments of Anatomy & Neurobiology, Pediatrics, Neurology, and Physiology & Biophysics at the UCI School of Medicine. “Neuroimmune interactions are a novel, important avenue to understanding and treating several brain disorders and mental illness and have been linked by other UCI researchers to Alzheimer’s disease.”

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‘First person’ interview with Gianna Fote in the Journal of Cell Science

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First author Gianna Fote was recently interviewed by the Journal of Cell Science for a newly-published paper. She provided commentary on her team’s new findings for UCI MIND: “In our recently published work we studied intracellular trafficking of Apolipoprotein E (APOE), a lipid-carrying protein. The APOE4 isoform of this protein is the biggest genetic risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. We found that that APOE can be degraded by a process called autophagy, a process in which cellular waste is transported to an acidic organelle called the lysosome. The APOE4 isoform accumulates in the lysosome and causes increased induction of…

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New Preventive Vaccine for Alzheimer’s Disease Gets Grant

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eturbonews: The Institute for Molecular Medicine (IMM), a non-profit organization dedicated to basic and translational molecular research to develop safe, effective vaccines against #Alzheimers disease and other #neurodegenerative disorders, today announced that it was awarded a $12 million grant from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) division of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH)​ to support clinical trials of its beta-#amyloid (Aβ) vaccines based on DNA (AV-1959D) and recombinant protein (AV-1959R) for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In collaboration with the @ucirvine (Principal Investigator, David Sultzer, M.D.) and @uscedu (Principal Investigator, Lon Schneider, M.D.), IMM (Principal Investigator and…

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Frequent and Feared. But Can Dementia Be Avoided?

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Managed Healthcare Executive – March 17, 2022 According to the CDC, about 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease …. “These numbers are projected to increase because elderly individuals are the fastest-growing segment in the United States,” says Claudia H. Kawas, M.D., a professor in the Department of Neurology at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine. … The things known about dementia risk that are potentially modifiable are all related to general health and maintenance of health, says Kawas, noting the association between control of high blood pressure and cholesterol levels and a lower risk of dementia.

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Inside the brain: The role of neuropathology in Alzheimer’s disease research

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90+ Study: Learning from the oldest-old Researchers can learn a lot about how Alzheimer’s develops by studying people at increased risk. People older than age 90, or the oldest-old, are the fastest growing segment of the population in the United States and most of the world and have the highest rates of dementia. Remarkably, the oldest-old also have the highest rate of cognitive resilience and somehow avoid developing dementia despite having brain pathologies. This populations’ high rates of dementia, yet also resilience, make it an optimal group to study to understand the underlying causes of dementia. The 90+ Study, launched in…

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Determining if Dementia Is Uniquely Human

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Discover Magazine: Aging dogs can develop canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD), sometimes known as “doggie dementia.” The brains of dogs with CCD show only amyloid beta plaques, not tau tangles, but their symptoms are similar to the symptoms of dementia in humans, explains Elizabeth Head, [professor of medicine and] director of the graduate program in experimental pathology at the University of California, Irvine. “They’ll forget how to signal that they need to go out,” Head says. “In the more severe stages of the disease, they can become incontinent and may not recognize people.” She points out that because dogs live closely with…

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Behind a Good Mutation: UCI MIND researchers use stem cells to study a ‘genetic mutation’ that protects against Alzheimer’s Disease

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Contributed by Hayk Davtyan, Ph.D. and Christel Claes, Ph.D. While the word “mutation” may conjure up alarming notions, a mutation in brain immune cells serves a positive role in protecting people against Alzheimer’s disease. Now UCI MIND biologists have discovered the mechanisms behind this crucial process. Their paper appears in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The investigation centered on a variant of the PLCG2 gene, which makes the instructions for producing an enzyme important to brain immune cells called microglia. “Recently the mutation, which is known as P522R, was shown to lower the risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer’s,” said Hayk…

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UCI receives renewal of designation as Huntington’s Disease Society of America Center of Excellence

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Renewal recognizes UCI’s dedication to patient care and active engagement in research to develop new therapeutic approaches February 15, 2022 “Renewal of certification as a Huntington’s Disease Society of America Center of Excellence is very exciting, as this will help us expand our patient care and research. HD was one of the first diseases for which a genetic cause was determined and serves as a paradigm for research into other such diseases,” says Leslie Thompson, Ph.D., Donald Bren and Chancellor’s professor in the departments of psychiatry and human behavior and biological chemistry at the UCI School of Medicine. UCI has…

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University Of California, Irvine Launches Institute For Precision Health

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UCI MIND #InTheNews: Forbes: “According to UCI, the new center will involve collaborations across seven areas: SMART (statistics, machine learning-artificial intelligence) designs software to integrate and analyze health records, molecular data, and observation. This unit will be led by Daniel Gillen, professor and chair of statistics, and Zhaoxia Yu, associate professor of statistics… Precision omics generates, analyzes, and administers genomic, proteomic, and chemical data. It’s led by Suzanne Sandmeyer, professor of biological chemistry, and Leslie Thompson, the Donald Bren and Chancellor’s Professor of psychiatry & human behavior at UCI… The institute will take special aim at diseases that heretofore have lacked effective treatments. “For many…

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More healthy behaviors = lower risk of Alzheimer’s, research shows

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UCI MIND #InTheNews   @Seniors Matter – Feb. 9, 2022 “People who engaged in more healthy behaviors had a lower risk than people with fewer because all of these things matter, and when it comes to brain-healthy behaviors, more is more!” said Joshua Grill, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the University of California, Irvine. “So, we should all try to adopt as many brain-healthy behaviors as we can.”

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What Memories Are Made Of

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Our memories are imperfect treasures – dear to our hearts, but not necessarily accurate snapshots of reality. CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks to neurobiologist Michael Yassa about how memories are stored in the brain, why we forget, and what we’ve gotten wrong about how it’s supposed to work. To help understand the mechanisms of memory, we meet a woman who remembers absolutely everything… and a man who can’t even recall what he ate for breakfast. Plus, actionable tips for how we can keep our memories sharp at any age.

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First person interview – Gianna Fote

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Originally posted on The Company of Biologists “First Person is a series of interviews with the first authors of a selection of papers published in Journal of Cell Science, helping early-career researchers promote themselves alongside their papers.” UCI MIND trainee Gianna Fote was recently selected for an interview to discuss her latest publication. Read the full interview here, and learn about her publication here.

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Understanding Why Certain Memories Flood Back (And Others Don’t)

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As a child in the early 1980s, I was enamored with My Little Pony, the colorful plastic horse figurines with long manes. I also had the brand’s Show Stable, which was parked in our TV room and filled with my beloved ponies. But as I progressed through grade school, I eventually packed up my stable and forgot about the toys I once loved.   By late 2003, I hadn’t thought about my ponies for over 15 years. Then, VH1 ran a 1980s nostalgia show in which celebrities reminisced about bygone pop culture. An actress held up a My Little Pony figurine…

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Boosting the Brain’s Brakes to Beat Memory Loss

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Overactivity in the hippocampus, likely tied to lack of inhibition, underlies some age-related cognitive decline. Targeting those circuits shows early promise in slowing memory loss. By Emily Singer December 9, 2021 As we get older, our memory begins to fail in predictable ways. We’re more likely to confuse similar memories, for example, forgetting whether it was little Tim or Samantha who threw the turkey leg across the room at Thanksgiving, and whether that happened the same year the dog snatched the sweet potato pie. In experiments in the lab, old people can easily remember very different objects but have a…

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Regional Cortical Thickness Predicts Top Cognitive Performance in the Elderly

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While aging is typically associated with cognitive decline, some individuals are able to diverge from the characteristic downward slope and maintain very high levels of cognitive performance. Prior studies have found that cortical thickness in the cingulate cortex, a region involved in information processing, memory, and attention, distinguish those with exceptional cognitive abilities when compared to their cognitively more typical elderly peers. Others major areas outside of the cingulate, such as the prefrontal cortex and insula, are also key in successful aging well into late age, suggesting that structural properties across a wide range of areas may better explain differences…

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Blood test shows promise for identifying risk for Alzheimer’s symptoms

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A blood test may be able to identify individuals at increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease symptoms, according to research presented at the Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease conference. The results came as part of the AHEAD study. Joshua D. Grill “The goal of this study is to stop Alzheimer’s disease before it begins — delaying or preventing symptoms in people at increased biological risk,” Joshua D. Grill, PhD, recruitment unit co-chair for the Alzheimer’s Clinical Trials Consortium, which helps oversee the AHEAD Study Recruitment and Retention Working Group, told Healio Psychiatry. “The latest advance is to use a blood test to improve the…

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Could Restoring Deep Sleep by Jolting the Brain Ward Off Alzheimer’s?

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Overall, this nice series of experiments identifies yet another component of the sleep/wake regulatory system—the TRN—that is disrupted by Aβ and degenerated in AD. It is interesting that stimulating the TRN can impact Aβ. It is unlikely, however, that the TRN is the only stimulation target necessary, and that stimulating it would address all the sleep disruptions caused by Aβ and also tau pathology. AD pathophysiology impacts multiple different systems regulating sleep, including brainstem and hypothalamic nuclei, cortical nodes regulating slow wave expression, and even the hippocampus that regulates ripples, and coupling of slow waves, sleep spindles, and ripples. This…

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Hypertension Medications Which Help Ward off Memory Loss

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Continuing all this week, National Public Radio’s “Academic Minute” series features a UCI expert. This Friday, tune in to hear Jean K. Ho, postdoctoral scholar at the UCI Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders, who studies how hypertension medications help ward off memory loss. Learn More At NPR’s Academic Minute: https://www.npr.org/podcasts/564572329/the-academic-minute You Can Also Listen On Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/1060078714

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A Q&A With Dr. Elizabeth Head On Her Latest Research

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The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement – WAM spoke to University of California, Irvine’s Dr. Elizabeth Head about her latest research into the link between #Alzheimers and #DownSyndrome. Learn more about her study funded through the UCI MIND WAM Initiative. WAM: Why are we studying Alzheimer’s disease in people with Down syndrome? Is there a link? Dr. Head: Within the Down syndrome population, 95% of people have a full extra copy of chromosome 21. This chromosome contains a gene that is responsible for making the beta-amyloid protein that clumps together to form amyloid plaques in the brain, which is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s…

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Neuroscientists Find How Associative Memories Are Made

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Neuroscientists have reportedly found how associative memories are made. The ability to be able to remember relationships that are made between unrelated items like odor and location, songs and events, is known as associative memory. The University of California, Irvine’s neuroscientists, have reportedly discovered some specific types of neurons within the brain’s memory center that are responsible for acquiring brand new associative memories. The findings of the study were reportedly published in the journal Nature, as also seen in news-medical.net. Psychologists reportedly started studying associative memory as early as the 1800s. Scientists now agree that the structures that are responsible…

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Building Inclusive and Open Alzheimer Disease and Alzheimer Disease–Related Dementias Research Programs

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The linked editorial from JAMA Neurology cites IMPACT-AD, the course co-led by UCI MIND, and work by The 90+ Study investigators, Maria Corrada, ScM, ScD and Claudia Kawas, MD. The systematic review by Mooldijk et al1 summarizes multiple areas in which the field of dementia research can improve clinical studies. Our Editorial will focus on ethnic and racial diversity (primarily in the US) and on age differences noted in the systematic review between population-based cohorts and clinical cohorts. We also share new and ongoing efforts in this area from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the broader National Institutes of…

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AD Biomarkers & Preclinical Diagnostics Report Now Available

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On June 28–29, 2021, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine held a virtual workshop, “Behavioral and Social Research and Clinical Practice Implications of Biomarkers and Other Preclinical Diagnostics of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and AD-Related Dementias” (AD/ADRD). UCI MIND Director Joshua Grill was an invited participant in this meeting, for which a brief report is now available.

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UCI MIND and AlzOC present free online conference on Alzheimer’s disease

By Carousel Slider, Commentary, Community Events, COVID-19, In the News

Panel of experts from around the nation to give updates on what is the third leading cause of death in Orange County. UCI MIND and Alzheimer’s Orange County will host a free, virtual conference featuring experts discussing the latest developments in research around Alzheimer’s disease, which is Orange County’s third leading cause of death and afflicts more than 84,000 residents. The 32nd annual conference, “Alzheimer’s From All Angles,” will stream live on YouTube and Facebook on Sept. 10 from 8 a.m. to noon. One particularly timely topic will be what effect a viral disease like COVID-19 can have on brain…

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New genetically modified mouse model mimics multiple aspects of human Alzheimer’s disease

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NIA-supported scientists have developed a new mouse model that produces a form of the human beta-amyloid protein, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. An important research tool, mouse models enable the exploration of genetic, environmental, and behavioral aspects of Alzheimer’s, as well as make it possible to test drug candidates before human studies. The new mouse model, which was reported in a recent article in Nature Communications, can be used by other scientists to advance Alzheimer’s research. Model Organism Development and Evaluation for Late-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease (MODEL-AD) MODEL-AD consortium Many factors, including gene changes, the aging process, and conditions in the…

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