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In the News

What is the link between Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s?

By In the News

Tune in this Friday, December 6th @ 9AM for the next episode of our monthly Facebook LIVE series, “What is the link between Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s?” This month, we’re joined by Ira Lott, MD, Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics and Neurology at UCI School of Medicine. Dr. Lott is a child neurologist at UCI and CHOC Children’s Hospital and Director of the UCI MIND Down Syndrome Program, which studies Alzheimer’s disease in individuals with Down syndrome. His research has been supported by the NIH, the Alzheimer’s Association, and the State of California, including the largest clinical research grant for Down…

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UCI MIND Investigators Named AAAS Fellows

By In the News

UCI MIND faculty members, Tallie Z. Baram, MD, PhD and Marcelo A. Wood, PhD are named among nine UCI researchers as fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Dr. Baram, the Danette Shepard Chair of Neurological Science and Director of the Conte Center at UCI, is recognized for her distinguished contributions to the understanding of childhood and febrile seizures as well as early life adversity on brain development and their enduring consequences. Dr. Wood, Professor and Chair of Neurobiology & Behavior, is recognized for his distinguished teaching and contributions to the field of memory and addiction, particularly the…

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First-of-its-kind study links the sleeping brain to toxin-clearing

By Commentary, In the News

Contributed by Bryce Mander, PhD A new landmark study from researchers in Boston was published in Science this month. This study linked human brain waves during deep sleep, called “slow waves,” with the pulsating flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) through the brain.   This study is important because it is the first to directly link sleeping brain waves with a mechanism thought to clear the brain of metabolic waste and toxins, called the “glymphatic system.” Prior studies in rodents indicate that the glymphatic system actively clears Alzheimer’s disease pathology, as well as other toxins and waste products, from the brain….

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Another hopeful outcome for Alzheimer’s treatment

By Commentary, In the News

Contributed by David Sultzer, MD, Professor of Psychiatry & Human Behavior This past weekend, China’s regulatory agency conditionally approved sodium oligomannate for the treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.  The approval was based on results from a 9-month treatment study of 818 people, and is the first approval globally of an Alzheimer’s drug in 16 years. Oligomannate (GV-971) is a plant-based complex sugar derived from ocean seaweed. It’s thought to adjust the microbiome in the GI tract, thereby tweaking amino acid levels in the body and reducing the toxic effects of brain inflammation that contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.  Results from…

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Yes! A positive Phase 3 treatment study for symptoms of dementia

By Commentary, In the News

Contributed by David Sultzer, MD, Professor of Psychiatry & Human Behavior Last week, Acadia Pharmaceuticals announced findings from its trial of pimavanserin for treatment of delusions and hallucinations related to dementia: Participants treated with pimavanserin had better outcomes than those treated with placebo. The study design was different from usual treatment comparisons of drug and placebo.  In this trial, all participants with psychosis symptoms along with Alzheimer’s disease or another cognitive disorder were treated with pimavanserin for 12 weeks.  Those who showed improvement were then assigned to either continue taking the drug or cross over to placebo treatment.  The study…

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Another setback, yet another reason to redouble our efforts

By In the News

Contributed by Joshua Grill, PhD, Director of UCI MIND Late Thursday evening, Esai publicly announced a decision to halt a Phase 3 clinical trial of a candidate treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, elenebecestat. The decision was made based on a recommendation by the study’s Data Safety Monitoring Board, which determined that the safety risks of the drug no longer justified continuing the study. Elenebecestat is a BACE (beta-site of the amyloid precursor protein cleavage enzyme) inhibitor that joins several other BACE inhibitors previously determined to lack adequate safety for patient use. The field will grapple with this news and learn how…

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Summer 2019 MIND Matters Newsletter

By Commentary, Community Events, In the News

In this issue of MIND Matters: UCI MIND Scientists Discover Exercise Can Reprogram Genes Welcome, New Faculty & Staff New FDA Black Box Warning for Insomnia Medications Announcing the 10th Annual UCI MIND Gala Honorees… And more! Download Newsletter >   Upcoming Events:   Facebook LIVE Q&A Series: “What have researchers learned from brain donations?” Friday, September 6  |  9:00-9:30 am |  UCI MIND Facebook Page Follow @UCIrvineMIND to receive notifications when we go LIVE Live online Q&A with Edwin Monuki, MD, PhD, Professor and Warren L. Bostick Chair of Pathology in the UCI School of Medicine.  Attend the video live on our Facebook page or view archived…

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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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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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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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