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In patients with moderate Alzheimer's disease,
an experimental drug that alters the brain's "fight or flight" impulse
succeeded in improving memory modestly when it was added to at least one
of the medications already in wide use to treat the memory-robbing
Compared with subjects taking the drug memantine and a placebo,
subjects supplementing their customary drug regimen for three months
with the experimental drug--ORM-12741--scored more highly on two
measures of memory. One of those tested the quality of patients' memory
overall; the other tested the quality of patients' "episodic
memory"--the ability to recall events and experiences from one's own
In subjects taking the lower of the two doses tested, researchers at
Finnish drug developer Orion Pharmaceuticals found a slight improvement
in working memory--the ability to hold several items in memory for a
minute or two. But the benefits were too small to be reliably attributed
to the drug.
The hunt for brain injury treatments has suffered a big disappointment
in a major study that found zero benefits from a supplement that the
U.S. military had hoped would help wounded troops.
is marketed as a memory booster online and in over-the-counter powders
and drinks. It is also widely used by doctors in dozens of countries to
treat traumatic brain injuries and strokes, although evidence on whether
it works has been mixed.
U.S. scientists had high hopes that in
large doses it would help speed recovery in patients with brain injuries
from car crashes, falls, sports accidents and other causes. But in the
most rigorous test yet, citicoline worked no better than dummy
treatments at reducing forgetfulness, attention problems, difficulty
concentrating and other symptoms.
For people who are hospitalized for traumatic brain injury, recovery may involve physical and cognitive problems that linger for years.
The road back to health can be even more arduous for those
who live in remote rural areas and don't have access to brain
rehabilitation specialists. Mayo Clinic and collaborators, including the Departments of Health in Minnesota and Iowa, Regional Health in South Dakota and Sanford Health in North Dakota, have received a $2.2 million federal grant to test new ways to provide specialized TBI care, with a focus on reaching rural areas and underserved urban populations.
"We know early intervention and longitudinal care give people the
best chance to minimize or prevent lasting effects of TBI, but that's
not always easy or feasible," says Mayo Clinic physiatrist Allen Brown, M.D. , Director of Brain Rehabilitation Research
and principal investigator of the five-year study. "Our goal is to test
a model of care that delivers specialized brain rehabilitation
resources to patients and providers in underserved locations. We believe
this is the first study of this scope — four states, three health
systems and two state departments of health — using electronic
technology to improve care with no face-to-face contact."
The randomized clinical trial, led by Mayo Clinic's Traumatic Brain Injury Model System Center, will test the effectiveness of using modern technologies to create health care networks, using phone consults, eHealth, telehealth, and virtual communication systems. With advanced technologies, specialists may reduce the occurrence of complex medical and psychosocial problems by providing support and education to underserved areas and to community clinicians who see patients there.
A new survey shows nearly half of U.S. adults have a personal connection to Alzheimer's disease.
According to a national survey for the Banner Alzheimer's Institute,
the results also found more than seven in 10 adults, or 218 million
Americans, worry about memory loss or the disease for themselves or a
Most Americans now realize how devastating
this disease is for individuals, families and the country," said Eric
Reiman, M.D., executive director of the Banner Alzheimer's Institute
(BAI). "We need to marshal their awareness and concerns to push forward
on the research that holds the greatest promise for stopping
As November marks National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month, the
survey illustrates the disease's increasing impact as the nation ages
and the prevalence of Alzheimer's continues to rise, being the only
condition among the top 10 causes of death that has no cure or
treatment. With 5.4 million Americans living with Alzheimer's today, the
Alzheimer's Association projects the number of people living with the
disease could exceed 7.7 million by 2030.
THE QUESTION The brain sometimes shrinks as people age,
altering their memory and thinking abilities. Might physical or mental
activities help prevent this shrinkage?
THIS STUDY analyzed data on 691 adults in their early
70s, including information on their exercise habits and participation in
socially oriented or intellectually challenging activities. MRI brain
scans showed less shrinkage in the brains among those who reported the
most physical activity, compared with those who were the least
physically active. Atrophy, or brain shrinkage, was greatest among
physically inactive men. Participating in mentally and socially
stimulating activities had no effect on brain shrinkage.
WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? Older adults. Forgetfulness is a
normal part of aging, but serious memory loss and cognitive problems
that affect day-to-day life are thought to be related more to brain