Greg O’Brien is a reporter from Brewster, Mass. He is the former editor and publisher of the Cape Codder and an award-winning writer. O’Brien was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease in 2010. The following is an excerpt from a speech he gave on March 13, 2014.
Over the past few years, our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease has increased immensely. We can now identify three distinct parts of the disease pathology: early-stage Abeta (amyloid) accumulation, mid-stage development of tau tangles, and late-stage inflammation.
Scientists on our Research Consortium are investigating all three of these points of intervention. On March 6, we talked to Drs. Steven Wagner, David Holtzman, and Rudy Tanzi about how their labs are working to stop Alzheimer’s in its early, middle, and late stages.
Bruce Yankner, M.D., Ph.D., led a recent study (not funded by Cure Alzheimer's Fund) on a protein called REST. His results suggest that this protein may protect neurons from damage such as oxidative stress and inflammation. The study also gives us clues as to why plaques and tangles, two well-known features of Alzheimer's pathology, may not always cause cognitive decline.
Cure Alzheimer's Fund is gratified that President Obama has specifically highlighted Alzheimer's disease research to benefit from increased research funding included in the Administration's Fiscal Year 2015 budget proposal.
On Wednesday, February 26, 2014, a U.S. Senate subcommittee heard from several panelists on the state of research, funding and awareness for Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. The first panel was led by Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In his talk, Dr. Collins describes much of the research being conducted by Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, which is focused on identifying both the causes of Alzheimer’s disease and identifying therapeutic targets for drug discovery to prevent cognitive decline.
In recent years, depictions of dementia on the stage and screen have become increasingly common. On February 20, 2014, Cure Alzheimer's Fund president and CEO Tim Armour appeared on WGBH News to discuss art and Alzheimer's disease. He was joined by WGBH arts editor Jared Bowen to talk about a recent play, "Absence", which tells the story of a woman living with dementia through her own eyes.
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In view of an emerging consensus on how Alzheimer’s disease develops and progresses, the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund Research Consortium aggressively is focusing on three opportunities for possible intervention—at the early stage of the disease, the middle stage and the late stage. This comprehensive strategy addresses the whole picture of how Alzheimer’s disease develops and progresses, and attacks all three points simultaneously.