Dementia is the umbrella term for a wide range of conditions that affect the brain and cause symptoms such as memory loss, cognitive impairment, and impaired decision-making. More than 55 million people live with dementia globally; the most common form is Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, there is no cure – only treatment to slow the progression of symptoms. A charity founded by Sir Jackie Stewart OBE in 2016, Race Against Dementia, leads ‘Formula 1’ style efforts to beat the disease on the 21st of January 2022. We bring you the latest thinking and research on dementia to join the drive to eradicate this disease.
Read on to find out about how the UK Dementia Research Institute is leading the global fight against neurodegenerative conditions. Also, learn how peptide-coated nanoparticles can tell us about the causes of dementia. Finally, discover cultural approaches to managing dementia symptoms and how Spiritual Fitness prevents Alzheimer’s disease below.
It’s not only about neurons – How the UK Dementia Research Institute is facilitating an interdisciplinary approach in the global fight against neurodegenerative conditions
Dementia is the world’s biggest challenge in terms of social and health costs. In the UK, we’re projected to have 1 million dementia patients in 2020 at a cost of £26bn; by 2040, costs are projected to reach £55bn. Globally, over 50 million people are affected by dementia, which will increase to 152 million by 2050. But, looking beyond the statistics, almost everyone knows somebody has dementia. The UK Dementia Research Institute aims to unite researchers, clinicians and scientists in the battle against the little-understood range of conditions; its Director of Scientific Affairs, Dr Giovanna Lalli, tells us more.
Kazushige Yokoyama, Professor of Chemistry at the State University of New York Geneseo College, investigates how peptides interact. Along with Akane Ichiki, an undergraduate student at the institution, his team has investigated the peptides involved in fibrillogenesis. This process occurs in the brain to form aggregates responsible for some of the symptoms involved in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Their system involves coating gold nanoparticles with peptides and using spectroscopic techniques to investigate how these peptides interact with the nanoparticles and with each other.
Dr Diana Lynn Woods, Azusa Pacific University, has dedicated her research to the greater understanding of dementia and the methods used to treat behavioural symptoms of dementia. Her recent work has focused on Latinos with dementia who exhibit behavioural symptoms of dementia and ways to incorporate genetic and cultural factors into intervention strategies.
Spiritual Fitness (SF) is a new medical concept that combines multiple aspects of religious involvement, psychological well-being, and spiritual evolution. Research now reveals that the development of SF helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease (AD). As shown by Dharma Singh Khalsa, MD, President and Medical Director of the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation, Kirtan Kriya, a safe, 12-minute-a-day meditation practice, facilitates that evolution toward SF. Moreover, practising Kirtan Kriya and developing SF improves cognition and resilience against stress. Similarly, Kirtan Kriya may ease AD symptoms or reduce AD risk by improving memory, sleep, immune function, and overall brain health. Religious and spiritual practices help prevent AD and should be part of every integrative medicine, functional medicine or multi-modal program towards AD prevention.