Dementia

Sunday, August 24, 2008 at 22:37 | Posted in health, Personal | 3 Comments
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Carol Thatcher describes how she detected that her mother, former British PM Margaret Thatcher has a dementia. I have a very personal reason to express my sympathy to Ms Thatcher: my mother, who is just three years younger than Margaret Thatcher, had similar symptoms approximately at the same time and was eventually diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s decease is the most common reason for dementia.

As a comfort to Carol Thatcher, as well as for myself, I can say that while watching our beloved ones suffer dementia is a very painful experience, the patients themselves tend to feel happy about their general condition. Although it will not help Mrs. Thatcher or my mother, I hope that stem cell research and other medical research are eventually going to discover a cure for dementia. Taking in consideration that a large part of the World’s population is aging rapidly, a breakthrough would bring releaf for billions of people allover the World.

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Military research benefits Alzheimer’s patients

Thursday, February 15, 2007 at 1:14 | Posted in health | Leave a comment
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According to Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, Swedish defense researchers may have discovered a new method to beat Alzheimer’s disease as a bi product. The original purpose of the research was to find protection against nerv gases. The discovery involves a protein in the human brain that reacts to both nerv gas and Alzheimer’s.

Thank you, Mauri!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006 at 15:28 | Posted in eu | 2 Comments
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As I wrote on Saturday, the German research minister Annette Schavan wrote last week to her EU colleagues in favor of banning EU funding for embryonic stem cell research. The Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat writes that Mr. Mauri Pekkarinen, the Finnish Minister of Industry and Commerce, has managed to convince Mrs. Schavan and a number of other EU ministers to allow EU funding for stem cell research. Opposition of Poland and Malta was not sufficient to block the funding.

The ministers approved a 55 billion € EU research programme for seven years in their meeting in Brussels. The programme includes funding for stem cell research projects for 30 million €. It is of course not much but it is a start and a sign of hope in the fight against Alzheimer’s.

To be quite honest, I have hitherto not had much respect for Mr. Pekkarinen. He is notorious for using his ministerial position for obtaining funds for questionable projects in his own constituency. But this time he made a good job and should be proud of his performance.

Thanks, minister!

A glimpse of hope against Alzheimer’s

Sunday, July 23, 2006 at 4:32 | Posted in health | 1 Comment
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While George W Bush vetoed the law that would have boosted the most efficient line of research to fight Alzheimer’s disease, other parallel methods of an early diagnosis are being developed. The BBC reports about a simple eye test which could be used to detect early dementia. It is similar to the tests that are used to diagnosis of high blood pressure and diabetes.

The test, developed by a team led by Dr Lee Goldstein, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, uses a non-invasive laser to study the lens of the eye.

It checks for deposits of beta-amyloid – the protein found in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s disease.

But this does by no means suggest that the problem would have been solved:

Professor Clive Ballard, of The Alzheimer’s Society, said: “This exciting study uses a new imaging technique which has enormous potential as a relatively inexpensive and non-evasive way to chart the growth of amyloid, the protein at the core of the plaques which develop in the brain in a person with dementia.

“But we are long way from eye scans being regularly used to diagnosis someone with dementia.

“More research is needed to show exactly how the amount of protein in the eye relates to development of dementia.”

Stem cell research is needed as much as ever which is why I hope that the US voters will eventually release that line of research for the benefit of the millions of people all around the World who are likely to get hit by Alzheimer’s the next 20-30 years.

Bush may be killing me

Wednesday, July 19, 2006 at 2:40 | Posted in health, Personal | 4 Comments
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I have a personal relationship with stem cell research because my mother has Alzheimer’s. This does not necessarily mean that I will have it in the future but the chances are there. Alzheimer’s is a hereditary disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is also called “the long kiss goodbye”. It progresses very slowly from the initial symptoms of forgetfulness through gaps in the short term memory and disorientation into a final stage where the patient ends up being as helpless as a newborn baby. Eventually, the patient dies because they no longer remember how to breathe, to put it in simple terms.

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s. A combination of medication and therapeutic activities can slow down the progress of the disease and even temporarily stop it but there is no way to get cured. As the baby boomers get older, Alzheimer’s is going to be one of the major diseases killing people the next 20-30 yeras.

Stem cell research is one of the most promising lines of research that may open up windows for a cure. Outstanding scholars in laboratories allover the World are doing an amazing work trying to map the causes and progress of the disease. Many of them use stem cells.

While stem cells are being used by many research projects focusing on Alzheimer’s disease, George W Bush has basically stopped US federal funding for stem cell research. Without funding in the country that has the most potential in the World to conduct stem cell research it is highly unlikely that a break through in efforts against Alzheimer’s will happen. The least one can say for sure is that George W Bush has slowed down the scientific efforts that seek a cure for Alzheimer’s.

As the BBC reports, the US senate has approved a bill to expand embryonic stem cell research. The bill was approved by 63 votes against 37. President Bush has promised to veto it and the majority is a few votes short to override his veto.

This bill does certainly not provide help to people like my mother. She will go all the way to the bitter end unless she dies of something else before she reaches that stage. But a delay of the two years that president Bush has left in office may turn out to be a matter of life or death for me if I will get Alzheimer’s one day.

I have not seen my mother the last two years because I want to remember her the way she used to be. I would very much like to be able to remember her that way as long as possible. That is why I hope so much of stem cell research.

When Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, he signed a hand written letter to the American people. The letter said:

I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead.

I am pretty sure that president Reagan would have signed this bill.

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