Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Staying Informed, Issue 2

Announcing 2021 AMF Beneficiary:

Aging Mind Foundation is thrilled to announce the 2021 Grant Beneficiary is Cleveland Clinic! We are honored and excited to support this world-renowned institution in the year of their Centennial Anniversary.

The research study, Circulating Inflammatory Factors in Early Stage Dementia, will be led by Principal Investigator, Dr. Lynn Bekris, co-director of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health Aging and Neurodegeneration Biobank and Cleveland Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center Biomarker Core Director.

Dr. Bekris recently lost her mother to Alzheimer’s disease and is more committed than ever to her research.

We know genetic studies have now clearly implicated inflammation as a key component in the development of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, when and how the inflammatory system plays a role during the development of AD remains unclear. Furthermore, given that brain changes of AD occur years before symptom onset, it is possible that key inflammatory changes linked to AD pathogenesis also occur before cognitive symptom onset. While this is a challenge, it is also an opportunity to intervene therapeutically before the development of AD symptoms. This study aims to identify and define key inflammatory factors that are active in the early stages of dementia. By conducting this research, Cleveland Clinic seeks to bridge the knowledge gaps that exist and help characterize the early cause of dementia to better inform intervention strategies that target the immune response in dementia.

The mission of Aging Mind Foundation is to fund research that seeks the cause of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Message from Principal Investigator

Marc Diamond, MD
Director of the Center for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases
UT Southwestern Medical Center

Dr. Marc Diamond is the Director of the Center for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. Aging Mind Foundation was honored to award Dr. Diamond with a $700,000 grant to investigate molecular mechanisms and therapeutic targets that play a key role in the pathogenesis of disease.

“Most of us, especially over a certain age, are bombarded by ads for new ‘treatments’ or ‘preventions’ for dementia, Alzheimer’s in particular. Generally these products (which are never free) come with glowing reports about individuals who have responded well. However, you will never see that these products are tested in placebo-controlled, blinded trials that are the gold standard for drugs that are approved by the FDA. Why is it important to reject things that are anecdotally helpful, but have not been ‘proven’ to work? Often we ask ourselves ‘What harm could it cause?’

If the intervention costs time or money, but doesn’t involve ingesting compounds, perhaps all that is lost is the time and money spent. If you have lots of both, then perhaps you will feel like taking the chance, especially if the intervention is benign or enjoyable (crossword puzzles, other mental tasks, exercise programs, etc.). But beware when it comes to ingesting anything, even ‘vitamins’ or ‘natural’ products.

If you are considering taking chronically an unapproved compound, remedy, or ‘natural’ product to prevent or treat dementia, stop.

Even necessary vitamins (e.g. B vitamins) and minerals (e.g. potassium, calcium) can be toxic if taken in doses above what are provided in a normal, healthy diet. And, because they are not regulated, there is no assurance that ‘natural’ products or herbal remedies are as pure as they claim, or, frankly, do not contain trace amounts of toxic agents that can build up after chronic consumption.

Why do we generally reject anecdotal reports in medicine in favor of labor-intensive clinical trials? There is a tremendous tendency for human beings to see correlations between two events (e.g. taking a potion and feeling more mentally ‘sharp’) as causal relationships. This has no doubt been highly adaptive in evolution, and indeed the “placebo response” is even exploited by physicians, especially when treating pain. The expectation of benefit from an intervention often does in fact lead to some improvement in a condition, at least temporarily. This is why we try to include placebo ‘controls’ whenever we test a new drug. However, our tendency to see causal connections in random events is very risky when it comes to reports of “cures” from individuals who have responded to one regimen or the other. This leads to profits for salesmen and loss of money and time, or even health problems for those using unregulated products.”

Dear Doctor…

Dear Doctor,
What is the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia?
Sincerely, David

Dear David,
Good question. Dementia is a clinical syndrome, not a precise medical diagnosis.  Dementia essentially means that someone has progressive worsening in their memory abilities such that it is becoming harder to take care of themselves.   There are many causes of dementia.  By far, the most common cause– its medical diagnosis– is Alzheimer’s disease.
Sincerely, Dr. Scott A. Small

Corporate Partner Spotlight:

Aging Mind Foundation exists only because of the incredible people and companies that support our mission. We are thrilled to shine a light on one of our loyal and committed sponsors, CBRE. CBRE has supported Aging Mind Foundation from the beginning and we are incredibly grateful for their continuous support.

Chris Ludeman is Global President of Capital Markets for CBRE. Chris and his wife, Lynda, support numerous causes and charities, including the Aging Mind Foundation, where Lynda previously served as an Executive Board Member. Both Chris and Lynda were our Honorary Chairs at the 2020 AMF Gala. Below are questions answered by Chris Ludeman.

  1. Why has CBRE chosen to support AMF?

    “CBRE is a community of over 100,000 employees spanning the globe and each has a family – which expands our community many fold. When a disease like Alzheimer’s strikes one member of our ‘family’ it strikes many members of our family. We rally around family.”
    2.  In what way does CBRE impact the community?

    “CBRE is a global firm that operates locally around the world. We are deeply committed to the quality of life of our people and the communities we serve. Healthy and happy people are more productive. When people we care about suffer we work to lessen that suffering and if we can improve the life of one we may just improve the quality of life for many.”
    3.  What is one CBRE achievement that you are especially proud of?

    “CBRE is most proud of our work to improve diversity, equity and inclusion.  We are firm which celebrates the unique perspectives and cultures that drive great thinking.  We strive to create the best ideas and they come from an enlightened workforce which reflects the human canvas.”
    4.  Can you describe a personal connection to Alzheimer’s or other types of Dementia?

    “My own mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s and I have watched the tole it has taken on the strongest woman I know as well as the impact it has had on my father and our family.  Additionally, Lynda and I have benefited from our association with the Aging Minds Foundation. Through our outreach to garner support for the organization we have been overwhelmed to find out  how this disease has impacted the lives of our so many of our personal and professional friends.”

Board Member Spotlight: Greg Haynes Johnson

Greg Haynes Johnson and his partner, Zach Hess

Our board members are the heart of our organization. Our board is comprised of 23 hard-working, dedicated and passionate individuals. We are honored to work alongside them creating awareness and funding scientific, medical research that seeks the cause of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Today we would like to spotlight one of those members, Greg Haynes Johnson. Greg is a member of our executive committee who actively innovates fun and exciting fundraising events. 

1.  What inspired you to work with AMF?

Like many, I’ve had a beloved family member fall prey to Alzheimer’s.   When I attended the first AMF gala, I was very impressed at the remarkable funds the organization raised for researching the cause.   So, when the invitation to help came, it was a no-brainer!

2.  Why is AMF’s work important to you?

As we age, we are all at-risk of this cruel disease.  We have to find the cause so we can finally help to prevent the terrible heartache for so many families.

3.  Aside from AMF, what other organizations do you dedicate your time to?

I’m a former board chairman and a life-long patron of DIFFA/Dallas.   I have served on a board for the City of Dallas for the last seven+ years.
4.  What would the title of your memoir be? And what is the most significant chapter?

“I had no idea!  My low expectations at 15 were gratefully surpassed”.  The most significant chapter would be “In my 50s I began to trust God’s plan”.

5.  If you could give a Ted Talk on anything, what would it be?

“The Incredible Value of Listening & The Power of Your Attention”

6. Where is your favorite vacation spot?

This is a tough one but, I guess Top-3 are Whitefish, Montana; Marfa/Far West Texas; and Aspen, Colorado.

AMF News and Events

Who would have thought that incredible February night dancing on the Joule rooftop would be the last time we saw each other for over a year? We cannot wait any longer…SAVE THE DATE: May 21, 2021 for our major Spring Event! This will be a lovely night spent under the stars, dining, toasting and dancing…while raising money to support the vital research taking place at Cleveland Clinic. More info to come!

Memory Wall: Losing a loved one is painful. Aging Mind Foundation offers you a space to honor your loved ones on our Memory Wall. Cherish their memory, remember the good and share their story.