Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers target vascular health, low-light therapy to combat Alzheimer's disease

Date:
November 20, 2012
Source:
University of Texas at Austin
Summary:
Researchers are conducting new research on vascular disease and low-light therapy to prevent and reverse dementia before it sets into the brain.

It's called the "Silver Tsunami" -- the swelling number of baby boomers surpassing age 65. As medical advancements extend their lives, they're expected to live well into their 80s and 90s -- outlasting any generation in American history.

But among Americans over 80 -- who represent the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population -- half are debilitated with a neurodegenerative disorder. Of this group, 5.4 million now have Alzheimer's Disease. By year 2050, that number is expected to balloon to 16 million, according to recent data released by the Alzheimer's Association.

As prevalence numbers steadily climb, the key to combatting the Alzheimer's epidemic is to focus on diagnosing the disease long before it ravages the brain. And the best place to start is the heart, says Jack C. de la Torre, adjunct professor of psychology at The University of Texas at Austin.

According to de la Torre's research, the opportune window for diagnosis is middle age, when vascular risk factors, such as Type 2 Diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, are strongly linked with Alzheimer's.

"Vascular risk factors to Alzheimer's Disease offer the possibility of markedly reducing dementia by early identification and treatment," says de la Torre. "Improved understanding coupled with preventive strategies could be a monumental step forward in reducing worldwide prevalence of Alzheimer's Disease, which is doubling every 20 years."

In a special November issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, edited by de la Torre, leading experts provide a comprehensive overview of the pathological, biochemical and physiological processes that contribute to Alzheimer's Disease risk and ways that may delay or reverse these age-related abnormalities.

Among the promising breakthrough studies, the special issue features new research by Francisco Gonzalez-Lima, professor of psychology at The University of Texas at Austin. The study is the first to demonstrate the memory-enhancing effects of low-level light therapy.

In search of a non-invasive treatment for memory loss, Gonzalez-Lima and a team of researchers tested light-emitting diodes developed by NASA on rats. The results show that certain wavelengths of red to near-infrared light are absorbed by the mitochondria in the brain (mini power plants generating energy for the cells) and facilitate cell respiration and energy production. By re-energizing brain cells in neural networks, the researchers found low-level light therapy has the potential to effectively treat dementia, depression, post-traumatic stress disorders and attention-deficit disorders.

Gonzalez-Lima suggests low-level light therapy could be applied transcranially as a new intervention for improving memory and reversing the cognitive effects of dementia.

With new treatments to prevent -- and possibly reverse -- Alzheimer's on the horizon, now is the time to accelerate global research before the devastating disease claims more victims and cripples the health care system, de la Torre says.

In 2012, Alzheimer's Disease -- the most devastating and widespread manifestation of brain deterioration in old age -- is projected to cost the United States an estimated $200 billion, according to data from the Alzheimer's Association. And by 2050, that number will balloon to $1.1 trillion.

"The time has come to start a plan that will vigorously reduce Alzheimer's Disease world-wide or we will all surely pay the colossal medical and economic price for the failure to act," says de la Torre.

He says although this field of research is in its infancy, researchers are making significant progress in curtailing the spread of Alzheimer's. Recent findings have important implications for primary care physicians, who are the first in the line of defense. By referring patients to specialists, they can manage or treat the symptoms of cognitive dysfunction long before they start experiencing memory loss.

"Reducing Alzheimer's Disease prevalence by focusing right now on vascular risk factors, even with our limited technology, is not a simple or easy task," de la Torre says. "But the task must not be delayed because time is running out for millions of people whose destiny with dementia may start sooner rather than later."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Texas at Austin. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Texas at Austin. "Researchers target vascular health, low-light therapy to combat Alzheimer's disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121120084729.htm>.
University of Texas at Austin. (2012, November 20). Researchers target vascular health, low-light therapy to combat Alzheimer's disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121120084729.htm
University of Texas at Austin. "Researchers target vascular health, low-light therapy to combat Alzheimer's disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121120084729.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey

AP (July 30, 2014) At least 20 New Jersey residents have tested positive for chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has spread through the Caribbean. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Xtreme Eating: Your Daily Caloric Intake All On One Plate

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Center for Science in the Public Interest released its 2014 list of single meals with whopping calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins