Posts Tagged ‘Alzheimers Disease’

Curry spice may boost and repair brains

A spice commonly found in curries may boost the brain’s ability to heal itself, according to a report in the journal Stem Cell Research and Therapy.

Curry spice may boost and repair brainsThe German study suggests a compound found in turmeric could encourage the growth of nerve cells thought to be part of the brain’s repair kit.

Scientists say this work- based in rats, may pave the way for future drugs for strokes and Alzheimer’s disease, but they say more trials are needed to see whether this applies to humans.

Researchers from the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine in Julich, Germany, studied the effects of aromatic-turmerone – a compound found naturally in turmeric.

Rats were injected with the compound and their brains were then scanned.

Particular parts of the brain, known to be involved in nerve cell growth, were seen to be more active after the aromatic turmerone infusion.

Scientists say the compound may encourage a proliferation of brain cells.

In a separate part of the trial, researchers bathed rodent neural stem cells (NSCs) in different concentrations of aromatic tumerone extract.

NSCs have the ability to transform into any type of brain cell and scientists suggest they could have a role in repair after damage or disease.

Dr Maria Adele Rueger, who was part of the research team, said: “In humans and higher developed animals their abilities do not seem to be sufficient to repair the brain but in fish and smaller animals they seem to work well.”

The research found the higher the concentration of aromatic turmerone, the greater the growth of the NSCs.

And the cells bathed in the turmeric compound seemed to specialise into certain types of brain cells more rapidly too.

Dr Rueger added: “It is interesting that it might be possible to boost the effectiveness of the stem cells with aromatic-turmerone. And it is possible this in turn can help boost repair in the brain.”

She is now considering whether human trials may be feasible.

Aromatic turmerone is the lesser studied of two major compounds in turmeric that may have an effect on the human body.

Previous studies suggest the other compound, curcumin, could reduce inflammation in the body and have anti cancer benefits.

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Super ageing 80 year olds have brains of 50 year olds

Scientists have now discovered that some OAPs are among a group of octogenarian “super-agers” who have brains like people in their 50s.Super ageing 80 year olds have brains of 50 year oldsMRI scans have found that some people in their eighties have more developed sections of the brain associated with memory, attention and thinking skills.

The researchers believe that for some people the rare ability to withstand the effects of ageing is in the genes, while for others it may be down to a combination of genes and a healthy way of life. It is hoped that the discovery, by Northwestern University in Chicago, could lead to new approaches to the treatment of dementia.

Emily Rogalski, an assistant professor in cognitive neurology, said: “The super-agers really are a diverse group, not all were wealthy, some exercised five times a week while others only ran if they were chased.”

“Some individuals smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years and had a Martini each evening while others never touched alcohol or cigarettes.”

“So it seems there are different paths to becoming a super-ager. There may be some people for whom genetics is very important and they are able to get away with being unhealthy and still have super brains.”

Researchers scanned the brains of 12 people in their eighties who scored extremely highly on memory and thinking tests, with average results similar to or better than middle-aged people. They then compared them with the brain scans of 10 normally ageing 80 year-olds and middle-aged people.

In bright octogenarians, the outer layer of the brain, the cortex, is thicker and more like that of someone in their fifties.

Professor Rogalski said that the phenomenon is rare, and he had whittled down 300 people who thought they had superior reasoning to just 30 after tests.

The super-agers included one woman who had survived the Holocaust, drank whisky each night and outlived four husbands.  Another spent her life as a housewife, contracted cancer, and went through chemotherapy.

Some were on a multitude of medicines for various conditions while others were physically healthy.

Prof Rogalski said: “By looking at a really healthy older brain, we can start to deduce how super-agers are able to maintain their good memory.

“Many scientists study what’s wrong with the brain, but maybe we can ultimately help Alzheimer’s patients by figuring out what goes right in the brain of super-agers.  What we learn from these healthy brains may inform our strategies for improving quality of life for the elderly and for combating Alzheimer’s disease.”

Another part of the brain, the anterior cingulate, of the super-agers was also thicker than in the 50 to 65 year-olds.

Prof Rogalski said: “This is pretty incredible.  This region is important for attention. Attention supports memory.  Perhaps the super-agers have really keen attention and that supports their exceptional memories. These are a special group of people.”


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Alzheimers Memory Walk for charity all around the UK

On September 16th thousands of people all around the country will walk together to raise money to fight dementia- please walk with us.

Memory Walks are taking place across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and registration is simple and free – just select the walk you want to be part of and complete the online form.

The money you raise will help us to run services in your community. The more people who take part, and the more money you raise, the bigger difference we will make to people’s lives.

Raise money It’s quick and easy to donate, and the amounts given tend to be higher so just follow the instructions below to set up your JustGiving account. It’s really simple.

  • Go to
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to set up your page.
  • Personalise it with a message to potential sponsors about why you’ve chosen Memory Walk and Alzheimer’s Society, and why reaching your target is important to you.
  • Ask everyone to sponsor you by emailing a request with a link to your web page to friends, family and colleagues.
  • Update your sponsors with some news about your Memory Walk and thank them for their support.

Fundraising tips Here are some tips to ensure you get the most out of your fundraising!

  • Start as early as you possibly can – don’t leave it to the last minute.
  • Set yourself a target and be positive that you can reach it.
  • Ask your company to support you; a lot of companies will match the sponsorship you raise so you will be doubling your total!
  • Tell everyone that you are doing this event for the Society and carry a sponsorship form with you at all times.
  • Ask friends if they could organise an event or donate their skills (for example haircutting) in exchange for donations.
  • Tick the Gift Aid box – it means that the Inland Revenue will pay the Society an extra 28p for every £1 that’s donated.
  • Make sure the first pledge on the sponsorship form is a high one as it sets the tone for the rest.

What your support could provide

  • £35 could support a person with dementia to receive a one hour befriending session with a volunteer, providing them with companionship and social support
  • £50 could support five people with dementia to attend a one hour session at a Dementia Cafe, receiving information and support in a friendly and informal setting
  • £104 could allow callers from anywhere in the country to call the national Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Helpline each week at their local rate
  • £200 could help run one session of Singing for the Brain, an Alzheimer’s Society activity that enables people with dementia and their carers to engage in the benefits and enjoyment of structured community singing

For more fundraising tips and ideas, visit Alzheimer’s Society website.

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Carey Mulligan is new Ambassador for Alzheimer’s Society

The Alzheimer’s Society has announced that the  actress Carey Mulligan is their newest ambassador.

Carey attended a special event in north London being held to mark the beginning of the charity’s Dementia Awareness Week™ (20 – 26 May).

Carey joined people with dementia and their carers at the ‘Rest-Bite’ service in Kentish Town. The Bafta-winning star has chosen to support Alzheimer’s Society as her grandmother Margaret, known as Nans, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2004.

Watch Carey talk about her grandmother’s dementia Speaking at the event, Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador, Carey said:

‘I am committed to helping Alzheimer’s Society in any way I can. My family and I rely on the help of organisations like Alzheimer’s Society to help us understand the disease and guide us in the care of my grandmother. It’s been a privilege to meet so many people with dementia.’

Carey’s appearance came as Alzheimer’s Society published new statistics which found that 44 per cent of people currently know or used to know someone with dementia. It also found that the majority of people (61%) are worried about either themselves or someone they know developing dementia in later life. Yet despite their fears less than a fifth (16%) of people want to know more about the condition, with 18-24 year olds the most keen to learn more (25%) in comparison to only 15 per cent of over 55 year olds.

Carey said:

‘I hope to do all I can to help defeat dementia and that’s why I wanted to get involved in Dementia Awareness Week™. By speaking about my grandmother’s dementia I hope to shine a light on the condition. This Dementia Awareness Week™ we are asking people to ‘remember the person’ by looking beyond someone’s diagnosis of dementia and engaging with them.’

Jeremy Hughes, Alzheimer’s Society Chief Executive, said:

‘We are extremely excited to have Carey’s support. There are currently 800,000 people living with dementia in the UK and this is set to rise to one million in ten years yet there is still much stigma surrounding the condition. By speaking out about her experiences Carey is helping us to reach new audiences and will hopefully get more people talking about the condition.’

Dementia is a condition that slowly shuts down the brain and affects one in three people over the age of 65. Alzheimer’s Society has produced a booklet and video of the five things you should know about dementia to help people learn that little bit more – key lessons include dementia is not a natural part of ageing and it is possible to live well with dementia. The booklet can be downloaded and the video viewed at

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Alzheimer’s- diet can stop brain shrinking

A diet rich in vitamins and fish may protect the brain from Alzheimers and ageing while junk food has the opposite effect new research suggests.Alzheimer's- diet can stop brain shrinkingElderly people with high blood levels of vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids had less brain shrinkage and better mental performance, a Neurology study found.

Trans fats found in fast foods were linked to lower scores in tests and more shrinkage typical of Alzheimer’s. They are common in processed foods, including cakes, biscuits and fried foods.

The best current advice is to eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, not smoke, take regular exercise and keep blood pressure and cholesterol in check, said Alzheimer’s Research UK.

The research looked at nutrients in blood, rather than relying on questionnaires to assess a person’s diet.  US experts analysed blood samples from 104 healthy people with an average age of 87 who had few known risk factors for Alzheimer’s.

They found those who had more vitamin B, C, D and E in their blood performed better in tests of memory and thinking skills. People with high levels of omega 3 fatty acids – found mainly in fish – also had high scores. The poorest scores were found in people who had more trans fats in their blood.

The researchers, from Oregon Health and Science University, Portland; Portland VA Medical Center; and Oregon State University, Corvallis, then carried out brain scans on 42 of the participants.

They found individuals with high levels of vitamins and omega 3 in their blood were more likely to have a large brain volume; while those with high levels of trans fat had a smaller total brain volume.

Study author Gene Bowman of Oregon Health and Science University said: “These results need to be confirmed, but obviously it is very exciting to think that people could potentially stop their brains from shrinking and keep them sharp by adjusting their diet.”

Co-author Maret Traber of the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University said: “The vitamins and nutrients you get from eating a wide range of fruits, vegetables and fish can be measured in blood biomarkers.

Commenting on the study, Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:  “One strength of this research is that it looked at nutrients in people’s blood, rather than relying on answers to a questionnaire.”

“It’s important to note that this study looked at a small group of people with few risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, and did not investigate whether they went on to develop Alzheimer’s at a later stage.”

“There is a clear need for conclusive evidence about the effect of diet on our risk of Alzheimer’s, which can only come from large-scale, long-term studies.”


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