The Defy Aging Newsletter

Anti-aging psychology, holistic health, and wellness

a biweekly e-mail newsletter for helping you think, feel, look, and be more youthful and live with purpose.

August 2, 2007 Number 170

This issue:

Alzheimer's Breakthroughs

Action to take

The scariest thing about aging is the possibility of developing Alzheimer’s disease and having your mind rot away while your body keeps going and going. Currently it affects 5.1 million Americans. Take hope––the cavalry is on the way.


Causes We know that some gene patterns are more prone to Alzheimer’s than others. CAT and PET scans show brains with Alzheimer’s have “plaques” outside the nerve cells and “tangles” inside the neurons. Research with mice has found that treatments that eliminate the plaque result in better cognitive performance (e.g., running mazes). Besides age and genetics, risk factors include diabetes, cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, and elevated homocystine levels.

Current Prevention and Treatment In a nutshell we know that using your mind, staying physically fit, eating well, and handling stress well reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s There are a few medications help some people slow deterioration.

Drug Breakthroughs Nine new Alzheimer’s medications are in Phase III (large scale clinical trials) and dozens more are in Phase II research. These could be fast tracked by the FDA and available in a few years. Different medications have different mechanisms. Alzhemed, for example, appears to bind to plaque and help eliminate it. Flurizan is believed to prevent the production of amyloidal to prevent the formation of plaque. Results to date with the medications have been very impressive.

Recent research suggests that from an early stage of the developing amyloidal proteins, a substance called oligomers block memory formation. This gives researchers an earlier stage of Alzheimer’s to target. Other researchers are working on antibodies that attack amyloidal deposits. Still other researchers are targeting risk factors such as lowering homocystine levels.

A Vaccine Scientists reversed Alzheimer’s disease in mice using a vaccine. A trial with 375 Alzheimer’s patients was halted in 2002 when 6% of the patients developed a brain inflammation. The researchers are now in Phase II human trials with what they believe is a safer version of the vaccine.

Research is rapidly gaining momentum as each month finds reports of new insights and perspectives. Instead of waiting until someone dies for a definitive diagnosis, new early detection methods are developing on several fronts. Genetic research is increasingly showing which genes are responsible and possible ways to turn them off, replace them, or neutralize them. One of the most interesting interventions was using needles to insert growth factor drugs into the brain.

In sum we are on the verge of a new generation of treatments that will help prevent and/or reverse Alzheimer’s disease.


We're not going to find one magic bullet, but I'm very optimistic we're going to see one or more of these therapeutic approaches work.

~Dr. David Morgan, Alzheimer's researcher


A clear conscience is usually the sign of a poor memory.

When I die I want to go peacefully––like my grandfather who died in his sleep. I don't want to go kicking and screaming––like the passengers in his car.

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