San Diego (ots/PRNewswire) – New research presented at the Alzheimerʼs Association International Conference® (AAIC®) 2022 covered the breadth of Alzheimerʼs and dementia research, including the basic biology of aging and the brain, risk factors and prevention strategies, and caring for and living well with the disease.
AAIC is the premier annual forum for the presentation and discussion of the latest Alzheimer’s and dementia research. This year’s conference was held both virtually and in person in San Diego and attracted more than 9,500 attendees and more than 4,000 scientific presentations.
“With record levels of public and private research investment, this is an exciting time for Alzheimer’s and dementia research,” said Heather M. Snyder, Ph.D, Alzheimer’s Association vice president for medical and scientific relations. “Researchers are advancing our understanding of the disease by exploring biomarkers, discovering potential ways to reduce risk and working to bring promising treatments and diagnostics into clinical trials. The Alzheimer’s Association is leading the fight through funding, convening, publishing, partnerships, advocacy and services.”
Advances in Treatments, Clinical Trial Results
The Alzheimer’s Association presented results from a number of clinical trials at AAIC 2022. Promoting and supporting a diverse range of treatments is critical to achieving the Association’s vision of a world without Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Here are two examples:
The EXERT study is the longest Phase III physical activity study to date in older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The results, first reported at AAIC 2022, are particularly noteworthy because the study was conducted during the Covid 19 pandemic – 80% of participants adhered to their exercise program and completed the study. After 12 months, people with MCI in both the aerobic intervention group and the stretching group showed no cognitive decline. A comparison group of other older adults with MCI showed significant cognitive decline over a 12-month period. The EXERT results suggest that regular physical activity, even if modest or low-intensity, such as stretching, can protect brain cells from damage.
At AAIC 2022, T3D Therapeutics reported positive interim results from its Phase II study of T3D-959, which aims to overcome insulin resistance in the brain and restore metabolic health to the brain. These encouraging preliminary results are a positive sign, and final results are expected in 2023. As understanding of the biological basis of Alzheimer’s disease increases, so will opportunities to develop new approaches such as T3D-959.
Also at AAIC, the Alzheimer Association announced the formation of the Alzheimerʼs Network for Treatment and Diagnostics (ALZ-NET), which will collect long-term clinical and safety data from patients treated with FDA-approved Alzheimer therapies under real-world clinical conditions. ALZ-NET is the first network designed specifically for new FDA-approved Alzheimer’s therapies to collect evidence on efficacy and side effects over a long period of time.
Experiences of Racism Are Associated with Poor Memory and Increased Cognitive Decline
Experiences of structural, interpersonal, and institutional racism are associated with poorer memory and cognitive abilities in midlife and old age, particularly among black people.
* In a study of nearly 1,000 middle-aged adults (55% Latino; 23% black; 19% white) living in one community, exposure to interpersonal and institutional racism was associated with poorer memory scores; associations were strongest among black individuals. Experiences of structural racism were associated with poorer episodic memory for all racial and ethnic groups involved in the study.
* In a study of 445 Asian, black, Latino, white, and multiracial individuals aged 90 years and older, individuals who had experienced extensive discrimination throughout their lives were found to have poorer long-term memory compared with those who had experienced little or no discrimination.
Hypertension in Pregnancy Linked to Increased Dementia Risk
Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP) – high blood pressure, including chronic/gestational hypertension and preeclampsia – are strongly associated with heart disease later in life, but to date there has been little research linking these disorders to cognition. Experience of hypertension during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of vascular dementia and accelerated brain aging, according to several studies at AAIC 2022:
* Women with a history of HDP were
more likely to develop vascular dementia -an impairment in thinking ability caused by conditions that block or restrict blood flow to the brain – later in life than women with non-hypertensive pregnancies.
* Experience of HDP, particularly hypertension during pregnancy, was associated with white matter pathology, a predictor of accelerated cognitive decline, 15 years after pregnancy.
* Women with severe preeclampsia had significantly higher blood beta-amyloid levels, a brain change associated with Alzheimer’s disease, than women with non-hypertensive pregnancies.
Persistent odor loss due to Covid-19 is strongly associated with long-lasting cognitive problems, and ICU stays may double dementia risk in the elderly
At AAIC 2022, several studies provided new insights into factors that may predict, amplify, or protect against the effects of Covid-19 and the pandemic on memory and thinking. A group of Argentine researchers found that persistent loss of the sense of smell may be a better predictor of long-term cognitive and functional impairment than the severity of the initial Covid-19 illness. In a large study population from nine Latin American countries, positive life changes during the pandemic, such as spending more time with friends and family, reduced the negative effects of the pandemic on memory and thinking skills. Finally, hospitalization in the intensive care unit (ICU) was associated with twice the risk of dementia in older adults, according to the Rush Alzheimerʼs Disease Center in Chicago. These findings may be significant given the huge increase in ICU hospitalizations during the Covid 19 pandemic.
Extremely Processed Foods May Accelerate Cognitive Decline
A study presented at AAIC 2022 concludes that cognitive abilities decline more rapidly in people who consume large amounts of extremely processed foods. Researchers studied 10,775 people over an eight-year period and found that high consumption (more than 20% of daily intake) of extremely processed foods led to a 28% faster decline in global cognitive scores, including memory, fluency, and executive function. Extremely processed foods undergo significant industrial processes and contain large amounts of fats, sugars, salt, artificial flavors/colors, stabilizers, and/or preservatives. Examples include sodas, breakfast cereals, white bread, potato chips, and frozen “junk” foods.
Low socioeconomic status, persistently low wages are associated with dementia risk and faster memory decline
Socioeconomic status (SES), which reflects both social and economic aspects of a person’s work experience, as well as economic access to resources and a person’s or family’s social status, has been linked to physical and mental health and well-being. Socioeconomic disadvantage, including neighborhood disadvantage and persistently low wages, has been associated with higher dementia risk, lower cognitive performance, and faster memory loss, according to several studies.
* Individuals with high socioeconomic disadvantage-as measured by income/wealth, unemployment rate, car/home ownership
, and household overcrowding-are significantly more likely to have dementia than those with better socioeconomic status, even with high genetic risk.
* Lower neighborhood resources and difficulty meeting basic needs have been associated with poorer cognitive test scores among blacks and Latinos.
* Compared to workers earning higher wages,
memory loss is significantly faster among low-income workers as they age.
* Higher parental SES was associated with greater resistance to the adverse effects of the Alzheimer’s marker ptau-181, better baseline executive function, and slower cognitive decline at older ages.
Alzheimerʼs Association International Conference® (AAIC®) Information
The Alzheimerʼs Association International Conference (AAIC) is the worldʼs largest gathering of researchers from around the world studying Alzheimerʼs disease and other dementias. As part of the Alzheimerʼs Association research program, AAIC serves as a catalyst for generating new knowledge about dementia and fostering a vital, collegial research community.
AAIC 2022 Website: www.alz.org/aaic/
AAIC 2022 Editorial: www.alz.org/aaic/pressroom.asp
AAIC 2022 Hashtag: #AAIC22
Alzheimerʼs Association Information
The Alzheimerʼs Association is a global voluntary health organization dedicated to the care, support and research of Alzheimerʼs disease. Our goal is to pave the way to ending Alzheimer’s disease and all other dementias by accelerating global research, advancing risk reduction and early detection, and optimizing quality of care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s disease and all other dementias. Visit alz.org or call 800.272.3900.
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