Alzheimer disease

With nearly six million Americans living with Alzheimer disease, this condition is a serious public health problem. It robs people of their memories, their ability to function independently and even their very identities.

When Alois Alzheimer published the first report on the brain disease that was later named for him, he described distinctive plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain. That was in 1906. Ever since then, scientists have been trying to figure out what causes those plaques and tangles and how we can prevent them.

Researchers have known for decades that the plaques that characterize Alzheimer disease contain a lot of beta-amyloid peptide. They call it A-beta. Drug companies have been struggling to find pharmaceuticals that can clear this bad actor out of the brain. Unfortunately, the agents they have tested so far have been disappointing at best.

What Is A-Beta Doing in the Brain?

Neuroscientists have assumed that A-beta is toxic to neurons, and that it has no legitimate business in the brain. But that assumption may be mistaken.

New research demonstrates that A-beta is part of the brain’s immune defenses. It seems that it has played an important role in protecting the brain from infection throughout human evolution.

The Microbiome of the Brain:

Our guest, Robert Moir, and his colleagues have found that the brain has a complex, previously unsuspected, microbiome. The A-beta compound that makes up amyloid plaques is a powerful antibiotic–100 times more potent than penicillin.

He is now studying ways to find anti-inflammatory compounds that target innate immunity of the sort found in the brain. He suggests that all of us can help our brains by eating a heart-healthy diet (it’s good for the brain, too), staying fit with regular exercise and drinking alcohol in moderation if at all.

If A-beta is actually acting to protect the brain, it could be a mistake to try to get rid of it. Instead, perhaps we should figure out how to help it. Our second guest, Dr. Dale Bredesen, also has a number of suggestions on how we can do that and reduce our risk of Alzheimer disease. He suggests measuring ketones and aiming for a sweet spot between 1.5 and 4 millimoles of beta-hydroxy-butyrate.

This Week’s Guests:

Robert D. Moir, PhD, is Assistant Professor in Neurology at Harvard Medical School. He is also Assistant Professor in Neurology at MGH Neurology Research. His research focuses on the biochemical and cellular mechanisms involved in neurodegeneration in Alzheimer disease and aging. His most recent publication is on herpes virus and beta-amyloid in Neuron, July 11, 2018.  The photo is of Dr. Moir.

Dale Bredesen, MD, is an expert in the mechanisms of neurodegeneration and has served on the faculty at the University of California, San Francisco, and UCLA. He directed the program on Aging at the Burnham Institute prior to joining the Buck Institute for Research on Aging as its founding president and CEO. We spoke with him via Skype.

His book is The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline.

If you want to read some of Dr. Bredesen’s scientific publications, we suggest “Ayurvedic Profiling of Alzheimer’s Disease,” with DV Rao (Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, May 2017) or “Reversal of Cognitive Decline in Alzheimer’s Disease,” with numerous colleagues (Aging, June 2016).

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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Air Date:August 11, 2018

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  1. Barbara
    New York
    Reply

    Research is now questioning if the HSV-1 virus is the cause of Alzheimer’s and possibly brain cancer.

  2. lhf
    Virginia
    Reply

    There are whole families affected by AD and who carry a gene that seems to predispose them to the disease. I don’t see how infection could be the cause in these cases. I also think that those living with a person suffering from AD will grasp at anything in the way of help and that they are therefore easy prey for peddlers of fraudulent treatments or cures.

  3. Hannah
    UK
    Reply

    Pathogens are a very likely culprit. The CDC is being sued right now for not updating guidelines on which serology tests to use for Lyme disease. Lyme is not the only suspect. EBV, mycotoxins, and others should be investigated.

    At the moment, a combination of anti-pathogenic medicines, supplements, and a combination of the right oils (for examples with mct fatty acid chains), ketosis, and adequate nutrients including Bs and magnesium are probably the beginning of retarding cognitive destruction.

  4. Martin
    South Carolina
    Reply

    EXCELLENT program! All reviewers, please visit https://www.drbredesen.com/mpicognition before you comment. I am a PhD biostatistician with over 30 years experience, over 75 research articles, and have worked on multiple NIH-funded research projects.
    Dr. Bredesen’s team discovered dependence receptors in 1993 (see the Wikipedia article). Their discovery was hugely significant! It has inspired hundreds of papers on cancer metastasis and autoimmune disease (and well as dementia and other conditions).
    (Skeptics, see http://www.drbredesen.com/bredesenprotocol)
    My wife has been on Dr. Bredesen’s protocol ever since she first experienced mild cognitive impairment. We use several objective ways to measure her cognition. Dr. Bredesen’s protocol is working. Enough said.

  5. Maddie
    North Carolina
    Reply

    There was mention on this program of a place that pairs patients with medical people for research. It said to go to Doctor Rosen….. I can’t find it. Could you please supply a link.

    Thanks.

  6. Julie
    Front Royal, VA
    Reply

    Thank you so much for this FIVE STAR informative and wonderful show on the role of beta amyloid in the brain. These are such crucial insights which, in my view, mirror recent revelations that it’s not always effective to focus on reducing cholesterol, because cholesterol turns out to be the “spackle truck” that shows up to patch distressed blood veins. Perhaps beta amyloid is the spackle truck in the brain. In both cases, reducing the excess “plaster” frees up blood flow temporarily. But in both cases, those efforts are focused on the wrong villain.

    These insights are so important for the future direction of research! Separately, I know that you prefer that we put our reviews on iTunes, and many of us aren’t listening on iTunes — we are listening Live on public radio. It’s not easy to track down your show on iTunes, and iTunes does not make it easy to review when they can tell we did not listen to it there, since they have no way to know we listened at all. So I am hoping you are still glad that those of us listening on public radio are reviewing on your website! Warm regards from Front Royal, Virginia, julie

  7. Ellen C
    Dallas, Texas
    Reply

    What do I think? I think that we don’t know nearly enough about the brain and meddling with it, even in the name of knowledge, can be a potential disaster.

  8. Stephanie
    Home
    Reply

    Please clarify as to when the broadcast and the podcast will be available.

    • Terry Graedon
      Reply

      The broadcast was initially available at 7 am EDT on August 11, 2018. The podcast will be posted on August 13, 2018.

  9. David LANE
    NC
    Reply

    I would like to hear about Dr. Bredesen’s experience with NHS in England. I remember him saying a long time ago that amyloid plaques were defensive not causal. Thanks for the Bredesen article threads. I’ll read them asap. I will be interested in learning too about additional Bredesen insights and ,hopefully, treatment successes.

    Is his treatment protocol still on PP’s website ?

  10. Grams
    North Carolina
    Reply

    I listened to the podcast by the 2 doctors who had aftereffects from Lymes disease and wonder if anyone has researched if there is a latent connection. I’ve tried to get someone with Alzheimer’s I know to try Sarsaparilla but they refuse. I think it’s worth a try.

  11. Colleen K
    TX
    Reply

    This is wonderful information that you make available to people. However, I wonder how many, like me, would appreciate links to your podcast and the online streaming.
    Thank you for what you do provide.

  12. Don
    Dallas, TX
    Reply

    This doctors reported information on causes of Alzheimer disease–appears to be biased and in arrears of latest studies on subject which 2 years ago deleted the cause of Alzheimer disease on beta-amyloid peptide. Which bring into question the reason for this report. There are two significant studies in US, Harvard Study and Dallas Study-called Lifespan. They are now focusing on TAU Protein. Drug companies are so focused on any results of these studies it’s like a feeding frenzy of Piranha Fish. Billions of Drug dollars will be results. So bottom line anyone as this date that says what to eat or medications to take to reduce or cure Alzheimer’s is fraud.

  13. Bob H
    USA
    Reply

    Some other other aspect of of brain disease is at work. Are these amaloid plaques related in anyway to the types of plaques seen in arterialscleros? Are they similar to muscular or orthopedic scars?

  14. Mary
    South Carolina
    Reply

    Once again, conventional medicine gets it wrong!

  15. Barbara
    New York
    Reply

    An ‘infection’ in the brain doesn’t necessarily imply a bacterial infection. It also could be a viral infection. Research is now looking at the Herpes Simplex I virus as the potential source of infection. Researchers are also working on the theory that HS-1 is also the cause for brain cancer, especially Gliomas.

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it was found that a simple anti-viral pill once a day could prevent both Alzheimer’s and Glioma brain cancer?

    • Terry
      Houston
      Reply

      Re: comment on Herpes Simplex 1 possibly being associated w/brain cancer. My sister died 5 yrs ago of an aggressive brain cancer at 72. She had horrendous bouts with HS1 constantly when we were kids and through the teen yrs. I don’t know if it continued into later years.

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