Monthly Archives: February 2013

UK’s leading dementia research charity has launched a new research strategy dedicated to driving forward development of treatments.

This strategic approach to research into dementia has four core components:

  • Responsive and Targeted Funding
  • New Drug Discovery
  • Strategic Projects
  • Partnerships

More information is available at the link below:

Chair Philippe Amouyel to speak at plenary session

A Joint Programming Conference entitled “Agenda for the Future & Achievements to Date” is taking place in Dublin on the 28th February-1st March 2013, under the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union, with support from the European Commission.

The Conference will bring together 500 delegates from more than 40 countries, and will look to provide lessons from the JPI experience to date and the way forward in Joint Programming.

JPND is heavily represented on the conference programme, with Chair Philippe Amouyel to speak at the first plenary session.

Clickhere or at the link below for the conference programme

The JPND presentations are availablehere or at the second link below.

Click here for photos from the event

Inappropriate long-term use of antipsychotic drugs is common among people with dementia living in specialized care units

This study investigated use of antipsychotic drug therapy for the treatment of behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) among 344 people with dementia living in 40 specialised care units in Sweden. 

The authors conclude that prevalence of antipsychotic drug use among people with dementia in specialised care units was high and that inappropriate long-term use of antipsychotic drugs was common; despite their limited efficacy and concerns about the safety of antipsychotic drugs.

More information in the link below:

Deep brain stimulation may provide many additional years of good functioning for carefully chosen, highly functioning patients.

Results from an international clinical trial, published in the February 14 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that deep-brain stimulation (DBS) can help at the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease —before motor complications get out of control.

In a two-year trial of 251 PD patients, those who received brain implants had fewer motor symptoms, better quality of life, and similar rates of adverse events as participants receiving medical therapy alone.

More information and commentary is available in the links below: 

“Brain Activity Map project” is expected to be part of the president’s budget proposal next month.

The front page of the New York Times on February 18th, 2013 revealed the Obama Administration may soon seek billions of dollars from Congress to map the human brain, in an ambitious project many have claimed will do for neuroscience what the Human Genome Project has done for genetics.

The Obama initiative is different from therecently announced European project  to build a silicon-based “brain” - a supercomputer simulation using the best research about the inner workings of the brain.

More information in the links below:

Major advance in genetic study of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD)

The major genetic cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) was identified by researchers in 2011.  A mutation known as a repeat expansion in an intron of the C9ORF72 gene was found to be the most important genetic risk factor for these disorders.  Most healthy people have 25 or fewer copies of the repeat, whereas mutation carriers can have 700 copies or more. The mutation explains roughly half of familial ALS cases and about a quarter of inherited FTLD, as well as some sporadic cases. However, scientists have since puzzled over how that mutation promotes disease.

Researchers in Germany report in Science the surprising news that the intron expansions are translated into proteins. Being an expanded hexanucleotide repeat in an intron (i.e., non-coding region of DNA) the mutation should not affect the protein sequence.  However, researchers found that the translated proteins contain dipeptide repeats and aggregate into deposits found in the neurons of mutation carriers, but not in people with other types of ALS/FTLD.

The discovery suggests that these dipeptide repeat proteins are major pathological players in a subset of ALS/FTLD patients. Scientists in the field hailed the findings as a major advance.

After a two-year contest, the European Commission has selected two research proposals that it will fund to the tune of half-a-billion euros each.

The Human Brain Project, led by Henry Markram, a neuroscientist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, plans to use a supercomputer to recreate everything known about the human brain

A 12 week consultation has been launched in the UK to establish a full set of quality standards and guidance for social care

The Department of Health, UK is seeking ideas from care users, their families and carers, service commissioners, care providers and front line staff to help decide on future topics for NICE guidance and standards.
Some of the potential NICE standards for discussion in the consultation include:

  • falls
  • deprivation of liberty safeguards
  • medicines management in home-based settings

NICE provides evidence-based guidance to support healthcare professionals and others to make sure that the care they provide is of the best possible quality and offers the best value for money. Care providers will be able to use these standards and guidance as tools to help improve their services.

The 12 week consultation ends on 26 April 2013.  You can respond to the consultation at the link below:

NIH-supported Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study group will undertake four clinical trials over five years

With new research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the USA’s leading Alzheimer’s disease study network will undertake four major studies aimed at finding new treatments for the disease.

The award supports the latest projects of the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS), a consortium of academic medical centers and clinics set up by NIH in 1991 to collaborate on the development of Alzheimer’s treatments and diagnostic tools.

In this round of studies, the ADCS will test drug and exercise interventions in people in the early stages of the disease, examine a medication to reduce agitation in people with Alzheimer’s dementia, and test a cutting-edge approach to speed testing of drugs in clinical trials.

Moreinformation at the link below:

A predicted cut to Europe’s research programme, Horizon 2020, occurred as the final budget figures were released by the European Council in Brussels on February 8th.

The budget has been reduced by over 12% according to the meeting’s final conclusions.

More information in the link below: