Tag Archives: Alzheimer’s

A Year of Drug Development Firsts?

30 Dec

CNBC’s Mike Huckman looks back at pharma’s biggest decade, and also looks ahead at    what’s to come in today’s segment “Big Pharma’s Big Decade.” UCSF’s Chancellor Dr. Susan  Desmond-Hellmann is featured in the program. Dr. Desmond-Hellmann who brought the world’s anti-cancer blockbuster drugs to market says what she’s “most proud of is that we changed the way people think about cancer.”

2010 could be a year of firsts– the first therapeutic vaccine for prostate cancer, first Lupus    drug, first once a week drug to treat diabetes, and  the first new flu vaccine technology since the 1950’s.

According to Dr. Desmond-Hellmann, “what is tremendous is how there is literally an explosion of biology – it should be a golden era.” She also believes that there could be a significant break-through in Alzheimer’s disease on the horizon. Drugs today just treat the symptoms but don’t slow the progression.

Dr. Desmond-Hellmann concludes by saying: “If there was a genuine breakthrough in Alzheimer’s we’re talking about the kinds of medicines that could be the biggest products in the world… bigger than Lipitor and Avastin… from a business perspective this could be huge.”

Watch the video here.

The Future of Drug Development

30 Dec

UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann is featured in the CNBC's special "Biopharma: 10 Years in the Making." Watch the segment here:

http://plus.cnbc.com/rssvideosearch/action/player/id/1372930025/code/cnbcplayershare

How to “Redirect” an Alzheimer’s Patient: Caregiver Tips

28 Feb

joindefeatdementiaHow do you “redirect” a dementia patient who wants to “go home” or  speak to someone who is no longer alive? How do you respond to a loved one who is living in a reality which isn’t yours? Here are a few tips that I posted yesterday on  Defeat Dementia, a Facebook group which provides information and support to caregivers of dementia patients:

• Don’t worry about convincing her that her loved one has already passed away, but to pay attention to the emotion she is expressing.

• Sometimes it is helpful to encourage the patient to talk about her loved one. Try questions like “what did you do with your (mom) when you were little?”, “What do you want to say to your (mom)?”

• Perhaps having a photo of her loved one available that you can look at together, ask her to tell a story about her loved one, might be strategies that would satisfy her.

• If necessary, some caregivers have tried a white lie, like “Your (mother) lives someplace else now.” or “I can’t take you there today. Maybe tomorrow.”

• It’s helpful to try to stay in the patient’s reality, and the death of her loved one is no longer a part of her reality, so saying her (mother) is dead only confuses her.

Source: UCSF Memory and Aging Center

For more information, visit the Defeat Dementia website, join our Facebook Group, visit the UCSF Memory and Aging Channel on YouTube, or check out UCSF’s Memory and Aging Center website.

New Theory About the Cause of Alzheimer’s Disease – a Prenatal Link?

22 Feb

pj-ao487_resear_g_20090218123227New research at Genentech provides a provocative theory about the cause of Alzheimer’s disease and   suggests potential new targets for therapies to treat it, reports Ron Winslow in the February 19 issue of the Wall Street Journal.

The prevailing view about what causes Alzheimer’s disease is that  deposits called beta amyloid accumulate in the brain, destroying nerve cells and ultimately, the patient’s memory.  Now, new research shows there’s a very different way of looking at the disease.

The Genentech/Salk Institute team of researchers propose that a normal process in which excess nerve cells and nerve fibers are pruned from the brain during prenatal development is somehow reactivated in the adult brain and “hijacked” to cause the death of such cells in Alzheimer’s patients, writes Winslow.

According to Marc Tessier-Lavigne, executive vice president, research drug discovery at Genentech, the new findings offer evidence that “Alzheimer’s is not just bad luck, but rather it is the activation of a pathway that is there for development purposes.”

Genentech has identified potential drug candidates based on the findings and says that it may take many years for any potential treatment to be developed.

The research was published Thursday in the journal Nature.

NOTE: The photos of normal and dead nerve fibers above are from Dr. Tessier-Lavigne.

links for 2009-02-17

17 Feb

New Gene Therapy Targets Alzheimer’s

15 Feb

bankiewiczA new approach to delivering gene therapy to the brain to treat neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, was revealed in research findings published in the February 4 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

UCSF neuroscientist Dr. Krystof Bankiewicz has developed a promising way to get nerve cells to help disperse gene therapy to targeted brain cells. He uses a technique called convection-enhanced delivery. The fluid containing the gene therapy is injected under pressure, delivered in pulses. Says Bankiewicz:

For the first time, specific regions of the cortex can be supplied with therapeutic agents by targeting defined regions of the thalamus…Translational experiments now are in progress to evaluate the potential of this unique gene delivery technology for the treatment of cortical dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease…

Bankiewicz’s research at UCSF has a strong focus on the development of practical approaches to gene and cell replacement therapies; he synthesizes several individual technologies into powerful new approaches to the treatment of such serious disease as brain cancer and neurodegenerative disorders, including Parkinson’s disease.

Source: Science Cafe

links for 2009-02-08

8 Feb

US Senate Adds $6.5 billion in NIH Funding to Stimulus Bill

4 Feb

Good news on the NIH front . This investment could  help support more research on Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, FTD and other diseases:

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- The Senate on Tuesday approved an amendment that would add $6.5 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health to an economic stimulus bill, raising the total proposed cost of the bill to more than $900 billion.

The amendment, proposed by Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa and Arlen Specter, R-Pa., would bring total funding for the National Institutes of Health in the Senate stimulus bill to $10 billion over two years.

“The National Institutes of Health have been starved recently,” Specter said in a statement. “This increase in funding will enable the National Institutes of Health to continue to produce remarkable achievements in scientific advances.”

Source:  Patrick Yoest, Dow Jones Newswires

Obama Flip-Flops on Stem Cells; Backpedaling on Another Promise

17 Jan

090116_stemcells_brownBarack Obama has flip-flopped on yet another campaign promise, according to Politico.  The President-Elect campaigned against the Bush executive order barring federal funding for research on embryonic stem cells and said he would reverse it once elected.  Now he has backed away from that pledge and  is pulling a CYA — shifting the burden to  Congress to change the policy.

In August 2001,George Bush stopped the NIH from funding embryonic stem cell research but allowed research to continue on several dozen cell lines already in existence .

Politico quotes a recent CNN interview where Obama said the following:

Well, if we can do something legislative then I usually prefer a legislative process because those are the people’s representatives. And I think that on embryonic stem cell research, the fact that you have a bipartisan support around that issue, the fact that you have Republicans like Orrin Hatch who are fierce opponents of abortion and yet recognize that there is a moral and ethical mechanism to ensure that people with Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s can actually find potentially some hope out there, you know, I think that sends a powerful message…So we’re still examining what things we’ll do through executive order…But I like the idea of the American people’s representatives expressing their views on an issue like this.

I’m very disappointed but not surprised by Obama’s latest remarks.  The pace of discovery of future cures  for the most devastating diseases  relies on policy change and investment in research.  Hopefully Obama will reconsider and restore the faith in all of us.

Sources: AP (photo), Politico, CNN, HotAir

MRI Study Predicts Progression of Alzheimer’s

17 Jan

Neuroscientists at the University of California, Davis have launched a study using MRI scans to detect the onset of Alzheimer’s before patients show the symptoms of cognitive decline. The study also looks at whether MRI scan analysis can be used to predict the likely rate at which Alzheimer’s disease patients’ brains will deteriorate, and how quickly they will lose their ability to think and reason. According to the researcher, Dr. Owen Carmicheal:

We hope that using this technique we can provide a method for differentiating people who will experience healthy cognitive aging from those who will experience cognitive decline due to diseases like Alzheimer’s. For those who will experience cognitive decline, we hope to predict its rate of progression.

To learn more, here’s the press release.

Source: UC Davis Press Office