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Intouch : In Touch Winter 2014
IN TOUCH WINTER 2014 13 RESEARCH LATEST STUDIES PARTICIPATING IN TRIALS, PAIN RELEF AS POSSIBLE DEMENTIA TREATMENT, AND THE BENEFITS OF MUSIC AND EXERCISE. RESEARCH TRIALS The population is ageing and the numbers of people with dementia, principally Alzheimer’s disease (AD), will balloon over the next generation. Everyone with AD or a greater risk of developing AD wants a cure, and the pharmaceutical industry is investing billions in fnding one. Yet there is a curious paradox. Trials of potential disease-modifying treatments struggle to recruit eligible participants. Evidence suggests that participation in drug trials itself, regardless of receipt of active trial drug or placebo, is benefcial. At the Sydney Centre for Clinical Cognitive Research at Prince of Wales Hospital, my team has been conducting trials of drug treatments for AD and memory loss since 1987. Patients and their family carers receive close attention, thorough medical checks and continued support, which for most more than compensates for the time spent attending appointments. We are excited about new prospects in the fght against AD. We are currently trialling two drugs that aim to prevent the build-up of abnormal proteins that are toxic to brain cells. The frst drug blocks an enzyme that releases the harmful Aß protein, which clumps together and eventually results in amyloid plaque deposition in the brain. There will be two trials with this drug, one for patients with AD and another for people with possible pre- Alzheimer’s. The second drug aims to prevent the abnormal formation of tau protein accumulating. We are also trialling another type of drug designed to make nerve cells communicate more effciently with each other rather than to block the pathology of AD piling up in the brain. With monthly inquiries from industry interested in starting new trials, the Sydney Centre for Clinical Cognitive Research can choose to accept only those trials that we think have a good chance of success and little risk for patients. We look forward to working together to fght Alzheimer’s and fnd effective treatments. For more information, contact us via phone 02 9382 3733 or email: lynne. email@example.com Scientia Professor Henry Brodaty AO, Honorary Medical Advisor to AlzNSW PAIN RELIEF AND DEMENTIA The National Ageing Research Institute in Melbourne is leading a trial to see whether pain relief medications could reduce the severity of behavioural and psychological symptoms in older people with dementia. Participants will be split into groups that will receive either a placebo, paracetamol, or a paracetamol and codeine treatment, and will be monitored over a six-week period. The study is generating international interest, with the researchers hoping to attract new funding to broaden the work. MUSIC AND EXERCISE A Japanese study has found that people who exercised while listening to music performed better on some measures of cognition than those who exercised without listening to music. One hundred and nineteen people aged 65–84 who did not have dementia took part in the study over the course of a year. Eighty exercised for an hour a week with a trainer – half listened to music, half did not. There was also control group that did no exercise. Neurophysical assessments found those who listened to music had enhanced ‘visuospatial’ function (sense of depth, distance and spatial awareness) compared to those who did not. However both groups had enhanced motor function – reinforcing the benefts of exercise for the brain. LONG LIVE THE NAKED MOLE RAT Named ‘2013 Vertebrate of the Year’ by the journal Science, the South American Naked Mole Rat is the longest-lived member of the rodent family with a lifespan of up to 32 years. There are many hypotheses as to why it lives longer, including its ability to slow its metabolism in times of reduced food, which could reduce age-associated oxidative stress in the brain. Could the distinctive burrowing rodent shed light on longevity and age-related diseases in humans? US Researchers recently found that the rodent’s longevity might be linked to a specifc ‘chaperone protein’ called HSP25 (or HSP27 in humans), which is found in much higher levels in this rodent species compared to others. HSP25 is a so-called ‘heat-shock’ protein which can help cells deal with different kinds of stress, effectively performing a ‘quality-control’ function. The researchers believe that trying to increase the human form of protein could be a key to preventing neurodegeneration in the brain and potentially regulate cell development. MORE INFO Stay up to date with the latest dementia research, visit: dementiaresearchfoundation.org.au
In Touch Spring 2014
In Touch Autumn 2014