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2016 Alzheimer's & Dementia Research Symposium
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Thank you to all who attended our second annual Research Symposium! We received so many positive reviews and questions from our surveys, please find below answers to your questions that were unanswered during Q&A. See you next year!

2016 RESEARCH SYMPOSIUM QUESTIONS (unanswered at event)

Any of the 3 speakers:

1. Can an event such as a "transient global amnesia" be perhaps an "onset" of AD?

Ben Bahr, PhD:  “part of the main definition of AD is progressive dementia. The key for diagnosis is the worsening of memory scores over time (often needing 6-18 months to truly see the progressive nature in some). Thus, a transient episode of amnesia would likely lead doctors to look for other causes other than the beginning of AD. With that said, the actual cause of the amnesia (e.g. mild stroke, a fall) may indeed increase the risk of AD or in fact speed up the onset and progression of the disease in some cases, in someone that was about to develop AD slowly.”

2. (Two-part question): Someone mentioned that big pharma doesn't see a fast enough payoff to invest in AD research but will that change as the population ages?

What kind of funding can we expect to increase the sonogram research out of Australia especially since that may not be lucrative to drug companies?

Carol Colton, PhD: “there have been a large number of ideas put forward for AD therapy and 99.6% of these have not proven to be effective beyond very small numbers of people.  (and maybe these results were optimistic).  So it is probably correct that our industry partners are cautious about investments.  This does not mean that investments do not occur, and in contrary, many pharmaceutical companies are working directly with NIH and multiple foundations (including Alz Assoc and ADDF) to improve the public health.  It is the sense of panic that we all feel about the lack of a way to treat AD that leads everyone to be more critical... however, we need to work together with the pharmaceutical industry  (who can certainly do the type of large scale science that I cannot do as an academic) to solve the problem.” 

Ben Bahr, PhD: “With reports that 99.6% of AD drug trials fail, not surprising that companies are becoming trigger shy regarding entering expensive clinical trials. We are now seeing companies looking for other options, like collaborating with the U.S. government (NIH) and other entities to help test new ideas (e.g. the NIH, Banner Institute, University of Antioquia, and Genentech study in Columbia).”

Question for Dr. Bahr:

3. Can you comment on the value of fasting to trigger autophagy? How useful? How often should it be done?

Ben Bahr, PhD: “Yes, fasting, and related caloric restriction, has been shown to increase lifespan in worms and rodents. It is important to understand the neuro-protective pathways activated by CR in order to find a safe strategy to activate such pathways, thus without the extreme difficulty to adhere to a very strict diet that can lead to dangerous loss of muscle mass and bone density in humans. Note that a UC Irvine report on 60 Minutes found those seniors that gained a bit of weight were the ones more likely to reach their 90s. My lab continues to study the lysosomal-autophagy pathway for its protective role against aging and AD effects.”

** After Dr. Bahr’s presentation, he was asked by an audience member about his last slide which said:  Tell your politicians about the new 1%

Ben Bahr, PhD: “This is my call to tell everyone to urge all politicians to divert 1% of all campaign contributions for AD research in order to solve this terrible disease (all races… for president, governor, congress, etc.). The amount of money for campaigns is staggering and 1% would be much better spent trying to help those that need help in remembering who to vote for.”

4. Is there anything now that those with Alzheimer's can use as a treatment therapy?

Todd Cohen, PhD: “No current drug therapies exist” and recommends the following…

1. moderate exercise
2. healthy diet
3. light therapy which can aid with depression
4. music therapy
5. active mental engagement and active discussion/debate

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “ There are lifestyle habits that you can adopt to maintain or potentially improve your health as you age. These habits, spanning four categories — physical health and exercise, diet and nutrition, cognitive activity, and social engagement — can help keep your body and brain healthy and potentially reduce your risk of cognitive decline.
Research has suggested that combining good nutrition with mental, social and physical activities may have a greater benefit in maintaining or improving brain health than any single activity. At the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference® 2014, a two-year clinical trial of older adults at risk for cognitive impairment showed that a combination of physical activity, nutritional guidance, cognitive training, social activities and management of heart health risk factors slowed cognitive decline.
Embrace lifestyle habits that improve your overall health, such as exercising, consuming a nutritious diet, and staying cognitively and socially active — science suggests these may support brain health as well. It’s never too late to make changes to achieve a healthier lifestyle — or too early to start.”


Alzheimer's Association

Our vision is a world without Alzheimer's
Formed in 1980, the Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.