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We may finally know what causes Alzheimer’s – and how to stop it

We may finally know what causes Alzheimer’s – and how to stop it
By Debora MacKenzie If you bled when you brushed your teeth this morning, you might want to get that seen to. We may finally have found the long-elusive cause of Alzheimer’s disease: Porphyromonas gingivalis, the key bacteria in chronic gum disease. That’s bad, as gum disease affects around a third of all people. But the good news is that a drug that blocks the main toxins of P. gingivalis is entering major clinical trials this year, and research published today shows it might stop and even reverse Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is one of the biggest mysteries in medicine. Bacteria in the brain The disease often involves the accumulation of proteins called amyloid and tau in the brain, and the leading hypothesis has been that the disease arises from defective control of these two proteins. But research in recent years has revealed that people can have amyloid plaques without having dementia. Gum disease link Cortexyme had previously developed molecules that block gingivains. New treatment hope Related:  Brain02

?kh=-1&uddg= If you are looking forward to your first stiff drink after a dry January, be warned: it may feel bittersweet. You may feel you deserve an alcoholic beverage after toughing it out all month – but have you forgotten what it feels like to wake up haunted by worries about what you said or did the night before? These post-drinking feelings of guilt and stress have come to be known colloquially as “hangxiety”. But what causes them? David Nutt, professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College, London, is the scientist who was fired in 2009 as the government’s chief drug adviser for saying alcohol is more dangerous than ecstasy and LSD. Alcohol, he says, targets the Gaba (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptor, which sends chemical messages through the brain and central nervous system to inhibit the activity of nerve cells. The first two drinks lull you into a blissful Gaba-induced state of chill. The body registers this new imbalance in brain chemicals and attempts to put things right.

Bizarre Discovery Shows Your Bones Could Be Triggering The 'Fight-or-Flight' Response When faced with a threat, hormones flood our bodies in preparation either for battle or a quick escape - what's commonly known as the 'fight-or-flight' response. For decades, we've generally thought this response was driven by hormones such as adrenaline. But it now seems that one of the most important of these messengers could come from a rather unexpected place – our skeleton. We usually think of chemicals like cortisol and adrenaline as the things that get the heart racing and muscles pumping. But the real star player could actually be osteocalcin, a calcium-binding protein produced by our bones. As a response to acute stress, steroids of the glucocorticoid variety are released by the body's endocrine system, where they manage the production of a cascade of other 'get ready to rumble' chemicals throughout various tissues. Researchers from the US, the UK, and India argue there's one tiny problem with this explanation of the fight-or-flight reaction.

Dementia Warning Signs Caregivers Should Look For A loved one showing symptoms of dementia needs to see a medical expert who can conduct tests and come up with a diagnosis. If a loved one has dementia, you’ll want to plan how you will manage that care, especially as the condition progresses. But it’s also important to rule out other medical conditions with dementia-like symptoms that may disappear with treatment such as infections and side effects of medications. What to watch for Here are some of the warning signs identified by dementia experts and mental health organizations: • Difficulty with everyday tasks. They also may find it hard to concentrate on tasks, take much longer to do them or have trouble finishing them. • Repetition. • Communication problems. • Getting lost. • Personality changes. • Confusion about time and place. • Troubling behavior. Some people who experience memory loss or have difficulty with attention, decision-making language or reasoning may have a condition known as mild cognitive impairment. Where to find help

What Happens When You Spend a Year Using Science to Improve Your Brain - The Verge - Pocket Illustration James Bareham / The Verge Here are two things that are both true. Neuroplasticity is real — that is, the brain really can change and learn and improve based on experience. And there’s little evidence that brain-training games are any better than placebo. “So,” wondered science journalist Caroline Williams, “if brain training isn’t the way to apply it, what should we be doing?” The Verge spoke to Williams about her expectations, more successful (and failed) experiments, and how to avoid the hype. Photo: Ann Ayerst What was your approach going into these experiments? I went with an open mind. One of the poster children for neuroplasticity are the London taxi drivers, and studies show that as taxi drivers learn to navigate the streets and memorize the routes, the hippocampus — the part of the brain that does spatial navigation — gets larger. Of the three brain areas that are activated when you make sense of place, two of them were normal and one just didn’t respond at all.

Cause of antibiotic resistance identified Scientists have confirmed for the first time that bacteria can change form to avoid being detected by antibiotics in the human body. Studying samples from elderly patients with recurring urinary tract infections, the Newcastle University team used state-of-the art techniques to identify that a bacteria can lose its cell wall—the common target of many groups of antibiotics. The research by the Errington lab which turns on its head current thinking about the bacteria's ability to survive without a cell wall, known as "L-form switching", is published today in Nature Communications. The World Health Organisation has identified antibiotic resistance as one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today. Lead author, Dr. "In this form the body can't easily recognise the bacteria so doesn't attack them—and neither do antibiotics." L-form—flimsy but survives In this L-form the bacteria are flimsy and weaker but some survive, hiding inside the body. Dr. Diagnosis

Dementia vs Alzheimer's: How to Tell the Difference Getty Images Doctors usually rely on observation and ruling out other factors to diagnose Alzheimer's. The terms “dementia” and “Alzheimer’s” have been around for more than a century, which means people have likely been mixing them up for that long, too. But knowing the difference is important. While Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia (accounting for an estimated 60 to 80 percent of cases), there are several other types. A correct diagnosis means the right medicines, remedies and support. What it is Dementia In the simplest terms, dementia is a nonreversible decline in mental function. It is a catchall phrase that encompasses several disorders that cause chronic memory loss, personality changes or impaired reasoning, Alzheimer’s disease being just one of them, says Dan G. Alzheimer's It is a specific disease that slowly and irreversibly destroys memory and thinking skills. Eventually, Alzheimer’s disease takes away the ability to carry out even the simplest tasks. Dementia

The Empty Brain - aeon - Pocket No matter how hard they try, brain scientists and cognitive psychologists will never find a copy of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony in the brain – or copies of words, pictures, grammatical rules or any other kinds of environmental stimuli. The human brain isn’t really empty, of course. But it does not contain most of the things people think it does – not even simple things such as ‘memories’. Our shoddy thinking about the brain has deep historical roots, but the invention of computers in the 1940s got us especially confused. To see how vacuous this idea is, consider the brains of babies. A healthy newborn is also equipped with more than a dozen reflexes – ready-made reactions to certain stimuli that are important for its survival. Senses, reflexes and learning mechanisms – this is what we start with, and it is quite a lot, when you think about it. We don’t store words or the rules that tell us how to manipulate them. Humans, on the other hand, do not – never did, never will.

Researchers Crack the Conundrum of Why We Gain Weight As We Get Older Our body weight fluctuates over our lifetime, influenced by a variety of lifestyle and biological factors. As we age, the diet or exercise regimen we adopted in our youth may not produce the same effects on our body shape, and it can become particularly difficult to maintain or lose weight. A comprehensive review published in 2013 suggests that adults gain weight progressively through middle age, with the average weight gain being 0.5 to 1kg per year. Whilst this seems only a modest amount of weight gain, it can accumulate over time and even lead to obesity.What is fat? The study sample comprised two cohorts: 54 individuals (10 males and 44 females) that were assessed for an average time of 13 years (ranging from 7-16 years) and a second cohort of 41 morbidly obese women followed for four to seven years post bariatric surgery. In both cohorts, subcutaneous abdominal WAT biopsies were taken at baseline and follow-up. References:1.