The Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) is the largest and most influential international meeting devoted to advancing dementia science. Once a year, the AAIC brings thousands of researchers and scientists together to share research discoveries and new methods of prevention and treatments.
Among those in attendance at the conference was Natalie Sutton, Executive Director for the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Indiana Chapter.
“There’s a lot of positive energy in the research community right now,” said Sutton. “It was great to be able to see researchers from all around the world having those conversations and sharing their work at the conference.”
Last month’s conference revealed exciting new discoveries in treatment. Among what was discussed was the MIND diet, or Mediterranean diet. This diet is said to help slow the progression of the disease by making actual changes in the brain - recommended by the Alzheimer’s Association.
“Our finding is, and has been, what’s good for the heart is good for the brain,” said Sutton. “One of the hottest topics at this year’s conference was lifestyle interventions. Making changes to your lifestyle and behavior, like diet and exercise - researchers are looking at how the effects of those lifestyle changes are reducing the risk of developing dementia.”
Lifestyle change is one of many targets currently being looked at. There’s a lot that goes on in the brain, and for years, early research and the pharmaceutical industry has been targeting amyloid in the brain in hopes of reversing the disease.
“What I think was really exciting at the conference was that people are testing a wide range of different targets,” Sutton said. “They’re testing different things happening in the brain and perhaps the combination of multiple therapies with multiple targets will ultimately help us to cure or reverse the course of Alzheimer's and dementia.”
The Alzheimer’s Association is also looking at studies on inflammation and if the cause is viral or bacterial. With all the things that are happening in the brain, the association is looking at how we affect more than just one of those to help fight the disease - which includes leading a study, the first of its kind.
“The Association is also leading one particular study that’s going to test a multi-domain intervention called U.S. POINTER study. It builds upon a study done on geriatrics that came out of Finland and had some surprising results,” said Sutton. “We know American's lifestyle and diet is not like those in Finland, so we’re testing this study through diet, exercise and activity, managing blood pressure, social engagement and brain challenges.”
“The study looks at a very diverse population of the U.S. and tests a combination of lifestyles. With the new study, the association is hoping to have a better understanding of their recommendations for lifestyle changes and the health of the brain.”
Since 1980, the Alzheimer’s Association has been helping millions of people affected by the disease and other dementias through care, support, and research. Alzheimer’s presents a very challenging journey for anyone diagnosed, as well as their support system. The Alzheimer’s Association is here 24/7, 365 days a year to help. For more information on the association and their services, visit www.alz.org.