Alzheimer’s is a disease that impacts all ages. From the more susceptible older members of the community to the millennials, who see and care for family members in various stages of Alzheimer’s, it has been a multi-generational rallying point. For that reason it was no surprise to see all ages present for the 4th Annual Jean and Bill Booziotis Distinguished Lecture with Dr. Marilyn Albert discussing the issue. Among those present at the Center for Vital Longevity lecture at Communities Foundation of Texas were 2016 BvB President Rachel Anderson and her teammates. Here is a report from the field:
Determining who is at risk for developing Alzheimer’s Disease well before symptoms appear is a major challenge faced by researchers and clinicians seeking to treat this form of dementia, said Dr. Marilyn Albert, Director of the Division of Cognitive Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University, who was speaking at the Center for Vital Longevity’s 4th annual Jean and Bill Booziotis Distinguished Lecture.
Currently, there is no effective way to halt the disease process in Alzheimer’s. And by the time symptoms of the disease appear, it’s too late. “We don’t currently have effective drugs that can either stop or slow down the disease’s progression,” she said during a public gathering at the Communities Foundation of Texas, which hosted the lecture on Thursday, April 27.
Dr. Albert emphasized what many in the field now strongly believe: for a treatment or prevention to be effective, early diagnosis is key. A challenge has been in accurately diagnosing the disease, and distinguishing it from other age-related brain diseases and conditions that can affect memory and behavior.
Thankfully, diagnostic tools for detecting Alzheimer’s have advanced a long way, she said, from the days of Dr. Alois Alzheimer, the German psychiatrist credited with identifying the first case in the early 1900s. With advances in imaging, such as PET scanning to identify potentially harmful plaque deposits, and improvements in cognitive and genetic testing, characteristic signs of disease can potentially be detected earlier.
Finding even more accurate or sensitive biological markers that determine risk perhaps decades before onset could have profound impacts on public health down the road, she said. In the meantime, adopting lifestyle changes that improve cardiovascular health (which is closely connected to brain health) might help, along with staying mentally and socially engaged.
Earlier in the evening, Dr. Albert met with members of the Director’s Research Circle, in a reception attended by UT Dallas Executive Vice President Hobson Wildenthal, and members of the CVL advisory council.
Guests included Rachel Anderson, Catelyn Fox and Holley Caldwell, with BvB (formerly Blondes vs. Brunettes), an organization raising funds for Alzheimer’s research and awareness, as well as CVL supporters Dr. Doug and Cassie Crosby, past AWARE president.
The next Jean and Bill Booziotis Lecture is slated for April 2018. For more information on how to join CVL’s Director’s Research Circle, please visit: http://vitallongevity.utdallas.edu/support/.
* Photo credit: John Michael Bruno