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Commentary

Exciting News in Huntington’s Disease Research

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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

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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

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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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Commentary on anti-inflammatories for Alzheimer’s prevention

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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

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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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Big IDEAS May Improve Clinical Management of Dementia

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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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