Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2022: Day Four Highlights

The Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) is the largest and most influential international meeting dedicated to advancing dementia science. Each year, AAIC convenes the world’s leading basic science and clinical researchers, next-generation investigators, clinicians and the care research community to share research discoveries that’ll lead to methods of prevention and treatment and improvements in the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Access highlights from other days here.

Florida Researcher Spotlight

Alfonso Martin-Peña, from the University of Florida in Gainesville, presented Spreading of Tau and other corrupted proteins through the gut-brain axis.

How did you become involved in Alzheimer’s research? I have been studying the mechanisms of learning and memory for nearly two decades. I focus on the changes that occur in the brain when we learn something new and how memories are stored in brain cells, more specifically, in the contact points between brain cells, the so-called synapses. About ten years ago, I started investigating what, within this process of learning and memory, fails in patients with Alzheimer’s. 

Do you have a personal connection to the disease? Although I do not have a close personal connection to the disease, nowadays, we all know someone that has suffered the disease. This suffering is unbearable and fuels my relentless efforts to beat Alzheimer’s.

What do you think this research means to the field? Why is it important?Alzheimer’s disease, like many neurodegenerative disorders, starts in small discrete regions of the brain causing mild symptoms to then spread throughout the entire brain leading to devastating cognitive deficits and death. This research is instrumental in deciphering the mechanisms of disease spreading and progression. We hope to identify target molecules and develop therapeutics that contain the disease at its earliest stages with only mild symptoms that could be easily managed with palliative treatments. 

Jose Abisambra, from the University of Florida, presented Tau-RNA complexes contribute to the pathogenesis and progression in Alzheimer’s disease and related tauopathies.

Andrew Zaman, from the John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, presented Depressive Symptoms Associated with an Earlier Age at Onset Differ as a Function of Race-Ethnicity: An Exploratory Analysis.

How did you become involved in Alzheimer’s research? My involvement with neurological disorders associated with aging began as a Ph.D. student. As a psychologist, I was particularly interested in how psychosocial factors such as depression and anxiety influenced disease symptomology and progression. As a postdoctoral fellow in the Hussman Institute for Human Genomics, my research has focused broadly on the impact of social determinants of health on Alzheimer’s disease with a particular emphasis on psychosocial factors. 

What do you think this research means to the field? Why is it important? Depression is known to accelerate the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. However, the symptoms of depression may be experienced differently or be reported differently among African Americans and Hispanics individuals. We believe that measurements of depression should be evaluated and “fine tuned” to improve their cultural sensitivity in persons with Alzheimer’s disease from underrepresented groups. This will enhance our assessment of depression in these groups and ultimately have a broader impact on the onset and course of Alzheimer’s disease among those who develop the disease.

Philip Tipton, from the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, presented Gait Correlates of Cognitive Function and Future Decline. His research dives into the way we walk and how it could predict the risk for cognitive decline.

National Dementia Research News

History of Hypertensive Disorders During Pregnancy Linked to Increased Risk of Dementia Experiences of high blood pressure disorders during pregnancy are associated with an increased risk of vascular dementia and accelerated brain aging. Read more.

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