Yearly Archives

2019

Commentary on the link between brain disease and sleep-wake systems

By Commentary, In the News

Contributed by Bryce Mander, PhD Our colleagues at UCSF recently published findings in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia examining how tau pathology in different brain diseases – Alzheimer’s disease, progressive supranuclear palsy, and corticobasal degeneration – impacts brain cells that are in charge of keeping us awake. This study reported several important findings: In all three diseases, there was a reduction in brain cells that help promote cortical arousal. In all three diseases, tau pathology was quite substantial in several of the wake-promoting cells in the brainstem region. Tau pathology in the brainstem in Alzheimer’s disease was associated with a much…

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Dr. Craig Stark Comments for Science Magazine

By Carousel Slider, Commentary, Community Events, In the News

UCI MIND faculty member, Craig Stark, PhD was recently quoted in Science Magazine discussing the critical role scientists play in helping improve society. The article focuses on a push to better understand the science behind addiction, and how scientists are spreading evidence-based treatment knowledge through regional and national seminars. By regularly hosting seminars to gather scientific and legal experts, researchers can better inform the criminal justice system on how to improve substance abuse recovery rates in the incarcerated population. Dr. Stark, a neurobiologist who specializes in brain imaging at UCI, has presented at dozens of these legal seminars, speaking on…

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Can brain scans be used to diagnose Alzheimer’s?

By Community Events

Tune in this Friday, August 2 @ 9AM for the next episode of our monthly Facebook LIVE series, “Can brain scans be used to diagnose Alzheimer’s?” This month, we’re joined by Craig Stark, PhD. Dr. Stark earned a doctorate in Cognitive Psychology from Carnegie Mellon University. He is a Professor of Neurobiology & Behavior, the James L. McGaugh Chair in Neurobiology of Learning & Memory, and serves as Director of the UCI Campus Center for Neuroimaging and the state-of-the-art Facility for Imaging and Brain Research (FIBRE). Dr. Stark’s research utilizes brain imaging and experimental psychology to increase understanding of long-term…

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NPR Reports on the EXERT Study

By Carousel Slider, Commentary, In the News

NPR recently spoke on All Things Considered about the EXERT Study, a nationwide clinical trial of exercise led by Carl Cotman, PhD, UCI MIND’s Founding Director, and Laura Baker, PhD, Associate Director of the ADRC at Wake Forest School of Medicine. The study involves an 18-month exercise program at the local YMCA for 65-89 year-olds with Mild Cognitive Impairment. Throughout the program, researchers look at participants’ cognition, blood flow, atrophy (cell loss), and harmful protein accumulation in the brain. Researchers hope to learn about the clinical effect of exercise, as well as the scientific basis for their findings. NPR interviewed…

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The Real Deal on Brain Health Supplements

By Commentary, In the News

The Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH), in partnership with AARP, recently released an extensive report reviewing the current evidence on brain health supplements. AARP formed the GCBH by bringing together an independent group of scientists, physicians, researchers, and other experts. Click here to learn more about these specialists. The GCBH found that there was a lack of evidence for effectiveness, concerns about false claims in marketing, and uncertainty of the possible risks of brain health supplements, since they are not required to be reviewed for purity, safety, and efficacy. The GCBH concluded that no endorsement could be made for…

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Alzheimer’s prevention clinical trial discontinued

By Commentary, In the News

Contributed by Joshua Grill, PhD The field of Alzheimer’s disease drug development received more troubling news yesterday, when the leaders of the GENERATION program halted their prevention clinical trials of a drug aiming to prevent the formation of the beta amyloid protein in people at risk to get Alzheimer’s disease. The GENERATION program is led by investigators at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute and is an important study in people at increased genetic risk to someday develop Alzheimer’s disease, based on the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene. The trials were stopped because preliminary results indicated that the drug under study, CNP520 (being developed…

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What medications can I take to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s?

By Community Events

Tune in this Friday, July 12 @ 9AM for the next episode of our monthly Facebook LIVE series, “What medications can I take to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s?” This month, we’re joined by Steven Tam, MD. Dr. Tam is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine and a Geriatrician at UC Irvine and recognized as a Physician of Excellence by the Orange County Medical Association. He specializes in geriatric neurology and serves as principal investigator for two Alzheimer’s disease clinical trials at UCI MIND. To attend LIVE and ask Dr. Tam YOUR questions, login to Facebook this Friday morning and search @UCIrvineMIND to view the video…

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The Impact of Alzheimer’s Disease on the Workplace

By Commentary, In the News

Contributed by Joshua Grill, PhD, Director of UCI MIND A recent report from The Economist concludes that three neurological disorders — migraine, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease — are impacting workplace productivity. Notably, all three conditions disproportionately affect women. While it is now clear that Alzheimer’s disease begins decades prior to diagnosis, the larger impact on the global economy results from the growing number of workers who are trying to balance employment as well as caregiving for a parent with the disease. More than 16 million Americans are unpaid caregivers for someone with Alzheimer’s disease and the most common caregiver is…

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UCI MIND scientists discover exercise can reprogram genes

By Carousel Slider, Commentary, In the News

Contributed by Carl W. Cotman, PhD and Nicole C. Berchtold, PhD It is increasingly recognized that exercise builds brain health. At a fundamental level, brain health and function depend on the expression of the brain’s genes, the building blocks of cells. In a recent paper that appeared in the journal “Neurobiology of Aging” (2019), Drs. Carl Cotman, Nicole Berchtold and coworkers demonstrated that in the brains of healthy older people, exercise reprograms gene expression patterns to a more youthful state, even in cognitively normal people (75-100 yrs old). Genes that were particularly targeted are those that boost cellular energy production and build…

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UCI MIND researchers define pathway required to slow Huntington’s disease progression in mice

By Carousel Slider, Commentary, In the News

Contributed by Joan Steffan, PhD In a recent paper published in Proceedings of the National Academic of Sciences, colleagues and I show that a critical regulator of the immune system – called kinase IKKbeta – helps slow the onset of Huntington’s disease (HD) in mice, and this may be due to activation of a process called autophagy.  Autophagy helps cells clean out and recycle their ‘trash’. Accumulation of trash can occur as we age and when disease is present, so regular cleaning enabled by autophagy is critical to maintain cellular function. In HD, brain cell autophagy fails, leading to an accumulation of harmful proteins that…

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Exciting News in Huntington’s Disease Research

By Commentary, In the News

Contributed by Joan Steffan, PhD & Leslie Thompson, PhD Results from a recent study published by Tabrizi and colleagues and Ionis/Roche Pharmaceuticals in The New England Journal of Medicine are very exciting for the Huntington’s disease (HD) patient, family, and scientific communities. The researchers showed for the first time that treatment with a huntingtin lowering drug called an antisense oligonucleotide, or ASO, is safe in HD patients.  Huntingtin is the protein linked to the genetic mutation that causes HD. With these results, researchers are planning a large clinical trial to test whether ASO can reduce symptoms in HD patients. The HD community is…

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Commentary on new FDA warning for insomnia medications

By Carousel Slider, Commentary, In the News

Contributed by Bryce Mander, PhD The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently required some sleep medications which are commonly used to treat insomnia to add black box warning labels. The reason for this decision is because there have been reported incidents of individuals engaging in activities that commonly occur during wakefulness during sleep while on these medications, including sleep walking, sleep driving, sleep eating, and sleep cooking. On rare occasions, these symptoms have resulted in serious injuries or life-threatening incidents, which has led to the inclusion of the black box label. The FDA has also issued a contraindication for…

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Using video games to detect (and protect) those at risk for Alzheimer’s disease

By Commentary, Community Events, In the News

Contributed by Craig Stark, PhD Researchers from the UK have just released a report showing how we can extract valuable cognitive data out of video game performance. Using the mobile game Sea Hero Quest, which relies heavily on spatial memory and navigation, the researchers were able to discriminate healthy aging from those at-risk for Alzheimer’s. By using games that are fun and engaging, but are designed to tap into specific brain processes, we can usher in a new era of diagnosis. Research in my lab here at UCI is further looking at whether playing certain kinds of video games can actually…

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Are there any promising vaccines for Alzheimer’s?

By Community Events

Tune in this Friday, May 3 @ 9AM for the next episode of our monthly Facebook LIVE series, “Are there any promising vaccines for Alzheimer’s?” This month, we’re joined by Elizabeth Head, PhD. Dr. Head earned a PhD in neuroscience from the University of Toronto and completed postdoctoral training at UCI. She recently returned to UCI from the University of Kentucky and serves as Professor and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Dr. Head has dedicated over 20 years and more than 150 publications to the field of aging and Alzheimer’s disease research with a focus on individuals…

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Commentary on anti-inflammatories for Alzheimer’s prevention

By Commentary, In the News

Contributed by Andrea J. Tenner, PhD Researchers at McGill University recently published results from a clinical trial of the common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), naproxen, showing that it was ineffective at preventing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in cognitively unimpaired people with a family history. I am not surprised by this result, as naproxen is a nonselective inhibitor of inflammatory mediators.  Dr. Breitner, the lead investigator on the manuscript, is an excellent physician scientist.  The study authors indicated that the results do not rule out a benefit from mid-life anti-inflammatory drugs, and that the study turned out to have too few participants…

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Dr. Kim Green Comments on ‘Missing Microglia’ for The Atlantic

By Carousel Slider, Commentary, In the News

The Atlantic – April 11, 2019.  Kim Green, a neurobiologist at UC Irvine, notes mutant mice lacking microglia have broadly similar patterns of disorganization in their brains. These mice models essentially predicted what would happen in the human. He had just never expected to see a person without microglia. “It’s absolutely remarkable,” he says.

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Does Red Wine Really Help You Live Longer? Dr. Claudia Kawas Comments for TIME

By Carousel Slider

TIME – April 11, 2019. “Alcohol could be beneficial through biological mechanisms like increasing [healthy] HDL cholesterol, affecting clotting mechanisms and blood platelets, or [having] effects on the vascular system,” says Dr. Claudia Kawas, a professor of neurology at the University of California, Irvine whose research has found that some of the oldest-living adults tend to drink alcohol in moderation.

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Big IDEAS May Improve Clinical Management of Dementia

By Commentary, In the News

Contributed by S. Ahmad Sajjadi, MD, PhD, Neurologist Last week, the results of a very important and highly anticipated study, the IDEAS (Imaging Dementia – Evidence For Amyloid Scanning) study, were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). This national multi-center study, including UC Irvine, enrolled more than 11,000 Medicare beneficiaries with cognitive impairment to undergo a special type of scan called amyloid positron emission tomography (PET). Amyloid PET scan provides the opportunity to visualize the accumulation of abnormal amyloid plaques on the brain. Amyloid and tau proteins are the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The study…

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Dr. Joshua Grill Discusses ‘Pseudomedicine’ with AARP

By Carousel Slider, Commentary, In the News

AARP – April 10, 2019. “A common situation is an older adult becoming concerned about their memory and taking a supplement to try to ward off dementia,” says Joshua Grill, director of the Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders at the University of California, Irvine. “But in reality, if they saw their doctor, they might find out that another medical condition such as hypothyroidism, or a certain prescription medication, is causing symptoms and can be easily treated. They’re just making things worse.” And if you do have dementia, he adds, you could start a drug treatment to relieve symptoms,…

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Is Alzheimer’s an immune disorder?

By Community Events

Tune in this Friday, April 5 @ 9AM for the next episode of our monthly Facebook LIVE series, “Is Alzheimer’s an immune disorder?” This month, we’re joined by Andrea Tenner, PhD. Dr. Tenner earned her PhD from UC San Diego and is an esteemed Professor in the UC Irvine School of Medicine and the School of Biological Sciences. Throughout her career, Dr. Tenner has received numerous academic awards and has published over 100 scientific journal articles. Dr. Tenner’s research examines the role of inflammation and how our body’s immune system responds to Alzheimer’s disease – and using this knowledge, her team…

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Today is World Down Syndrome Day!

By Commentary

Did you know that people with Down syndrome are at significantly increased risk to develop Alzheimer’s disease? UCI MIND researchers, like Ira Lott, MD, Eric Doran, MS, Elizabeth Head, PhD, and Jorge Busciglio, PhD aim to better understand this critical link to improve quality of life and bring us closer to improved treatments and prevention for all people impacted by Alzheimer’s disease. To learn more about the UCI MIND Down Syndrome Program, click here > To read a recent interview with Down Syndrome Program manager, Eric Doran, click here >. In this post, Eric discusses the creation of a new…

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Phase 3 Trials of Aducanumab Halted

By Commentary, In the News

Contributed by Joshua Grill, PhD, Director of UCI MIND The global research effort to find effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease has suffered another disappointing setback. Biogen announced today that the company will halt the parallel large Phase 3 trials of the monoclonal antibody against the amyloid beta protein, aducanumab. This treatment was viewed by many to hold tremendous promise. Early results were unprecedented. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease who were treated with aducanumab showed significant reduction in amyloid burden in the brain, which appeared to slow disease progression. The results were based on a small number of participants, however, and were not…

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