AAIC Highlights from Two Florida Research Champions

By Stefanie Wardlow and Keith Gibson

Today ends a thrilling 5 days in San Diego at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC), hearing from the leading voices in dementia research. What we saw unveiled at AAIC this week will help to advance our understanding of the disease and get us that much closer to new treatments, prevention and, ultimately, a cure. 

Here were our highlights: 

  • Yaning Wang, Ph.D. (Createrna Science and Technology, Clarksburg, MD) reaffirmed that the FDA made the right decision to approve aducanumab treatment. To learn more see Tuesday’s session, Advances in Amyloid Lowering Therapeutics, What Questions Remain.
  • New research links socioeconomic status to physical and psychological health and well-being. This reflects social and economic measures of a person’s work experience as well as an individual’s or family’s economic access to resources and social position. Click here to read about the research examining its impact on cognition.  
  • Precision medicine is the future of care and, with biomarkers, can be tailored to the individual. 
    • Several monoclonal antibodies will be coming up for FDA review this year and in 2023. Other drug targets are close to FDA review, such as a drug that focuses on metabolism and how the brain processes sugar. (John Didsbury, Ph.D, PIONEER Study). 
    • Other research focuses on microorganisms in the gut and how they can produce or negate inflammation not only in the stomach but also in the brain. 
    • Central inflammation is another area of research. Part the Cloud funding has helped to bring several mechanisms into action, for example, an autoimmune drug (Xpro) is now being studied because of this funding.
    • Alzheimer’s is a complex disease needing multiple pathology-specific targets. Treatment will be a cocktail approach using a combination of medications as well as lifestyle interventions. The U.S Pointer study is important as the outcomes from this research will inform physicians about possible interventions that can help the brain.
  • Non-pharmacological research was abundant at AAIC. This included exercise for risk reduction and different approaches to care including the use of music therapy and virtual reality (VR) therapy. Particularly interesting was Tuesday’s session, Dementia Care and Psychosocial Factors,  where at Lora Appel, Ph.D., focused on the use of immersive VR- therapy on aggressive behaviors. 
  • Alzheimer’s Network or ALZ-NET for short, is a new platform to continue to measure FDA approved treatments effectiveness and safety. Data will be collected by doctors and clinical centers from their patients. ALZ-NET is important as we move into this new era of treatment approaches. Click here to learn more.
  • Start exercising and socializing. Laura Baker, Ph.D.,Wake Forest University, gave results to the EXERT study, showing more evidence that exercise with socialization is beneficial to the brain. Click here to read an article by the Associated Press.
  • Biomarkers are the new normal. Biomarkers are helping to change the landscape of Alzheimer’s and other dementia science. For example, blood biomarkers are being used in clinical trials and one day could be used in clinical settings. Click here to learn more

With all this exciting news, you might be wondering what you can do to make a difference. 

  • Download the Science Hub app to keep up with dementia science.
  • Learn about ISTAART. The Alzheimer’s Association International Society to Advance Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment (ISTAART) supports the global Alzheimer’s and dementia science community. Learn more at alz.org/istaart 
  • Sign-up for a clinical trial. The Alzheimer’s Association TrialMatch® connects individuals living with Alzheimer’s, caregivers and healthy volunteers to clinical trials. This is a free service that allows you to search for research in your local area. 

Access more highlights from AAIC here.

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