Mental Health

Updates on mental health, brain diseases, etc.

In your 20s suicide is one of the biggest causes of death.

Latest News

Parkinson’s Disease Treatment Enters Human Trials – Newsweek – 30-Jul-2018
Kyoto University will begin testing the new treatment on humans.
Will inject induced Pluripotent Stem cells into the patients’ brains.
iPS cells can develop into neurons that produce dopamine.
In animal trials. movement of monkeys with Parkinson’s disease improved.

Higher temperatures result in more suicides – The Guardian – 23-Jul-2018
Economic recessions known to increase rates of self-harm.
Impact of climate change on suicides may be as significant.
Temperature rise of 1C results in 0.7% more suicides in the US.
Even larger rate rise (2.1%) in Mexico.
Rise seen irrespective of wealth and the usual climate of the area.
Suicide is a top 10–15 cause of death globally.
Other research links 2,000 suicides a year in India to climate change.

$30 million venture philanthropy fund to tackle Alzheimer’s – Business Insider – 17-Jul-2018
Investors include Bill Gates, Leonard Lauder and the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation.
$30 million Diagnostics Accelerator to investigate ideas for diagnosing Alzheimer’s earlier.
Current Alzheimer’s diagnoses are expensive, complex and invasive procedures.
Gates hopes to find a simple blood test or eye exam.

High BP in middle age increases dementia risk – NHS – 14-Jun-2018
Dementia risk 38% higher for 50 year-olds with 130mmHg systolic pressure.
Length of time people had high blood pressure for was important.
Risk not seen in older people, perhaps because damage already done.
High blood pressure can cause bleeding and damage to the brain.
Based on 8,639 people tracked in 30-year Whitehall II study.

Dementia exercise programmes ‘don’t slow brain decline’ – BBC News – 17-May-2018
Alcor has received a $5,000,000 contribution to fund cryonics research.
It is a significant fraction of the existing Alcor assets.
Alcor Life Extension Foundation is one of the two oldest US cryonics providers.
Brad Armstrong became a member in 2016 and has made money on cryptocurrencies.
Hal Finney Cryonics Research Fund will support reversible low-temperature storage.

Mediterranean Diet Could Delay Alzheimer’s by 3 Years – Newsweek – 3-May-2018
Researchers measured biomarkers for Alzheimer’s in 70 volunteers aged 30 to 60.
Participants split into two high and adherence groups.
Biomarkers checked again 3 years later at end of study.
Lower adherence to the Mediterranean diet displayed more biological risk factors.
Risk factors included more beta-amyloid and worse metabolization of glucose.
Adherence to a Mediterranean diet was associated with 1.5 to 3.5 years of protection.

Anti-inflammatory may reduce risk of Parkinson’s – Medical Xpress – 23-Apr-2018
People with IBD are at a 28% higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
Anti-Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha therapy used against inflammatory bowel disease.
After anti-TNFα therapy risk of Parkinson’s lower than that in the general population.
78% reduction in Parkinson’s disease among IBD patients treated with anti-TNFα.

Old Brains Can Still Make New Neurons – Columbia University – 5-Apr-2018
Neurogenesis is the production of new neurons.
In mice it declines with age and virtually ceases in the mature brain.
Young and old human brains produce thousands of new neurons.
But older brains have less vascular development and form less new connections.
Neurogenesis was tracked in 28 healthy donors ranging from 14 to 79 years old.
Further study needed to investigate impact of exercise, diet, and medications.

Aerobic Fitness Correlates with Better Memory in Later Life – Fight Aging – 4-Apr-2018
Brain is reliant on the vascular system in many ways.
Reduction in capillary formation reduces supply of nutrients & oxygen.
Raised blood pressure pummels delicate tissue structures in the brain.
Most people’s activity below that required to age at slowest possible rate.
Age-related differences in high-interference memory observed across the lifespan.
Differences in general recognition were not observed until after 60 years of age.
Older adults with higher aerobic fitness had better high-interference memory.

7 Discoveries Getting Us Closer to Beating Alzheimer’s – Science Alert – 23-Mar-2018
1. Better idea of what tau proteins look like
2. Bacteria seem to be playing some kind of role
3. Blood test could spot the condition decades ahead
4. Memories aren’t erased and could be accessed again
5. Ultrasound could breach blood–brain barrier
6. Beta amyloid can move from other parts of the body
7. Diabetes drug could also be used to treat Alzheimer’s

Scientists inch towards answers on how dementia works – Financial Times – 12-Mar-2018
“We are getting an increasingly sophisticated understanding of what is going on in these diseases” – David Reynolds – chief scientist at Alzheimer’s Research UK.
40 per cent of non-demented individuals had fully fledged Alzheimer’s disease pathology.
ApoE-2 protects against dementia even in people whose brain is full of amyloid.
Inflammation associated with an unbalanced immune response contributes to Alzheimer’s.
Anti-inflammatory medication for arthritis cuts risk of developing dementia by half.
Blood test for amyloid formation came closer last month with a Japanese study.

Traumatic brain injuries linked to dementia risks – Science Nordic – 4-Feb-2018
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can come from falling, contact sports, traffic accidents or violence.
Swedish register searched for all cases of brain trauma and dementia from 1964 to 2012.
TBI sufferers compared with people who did not suffer such head injuries.
Link with dementia was more frequent the more severe the injury.
Occurrence of early dementia is 200–400 times more frequent among professional boxers.

Low-Hum Therapy Seems To Counteract Alzheimer’s Symptoms In Mice – IFL Science – 4-Jan-2018
MIT researchers have exposed mice to a hum at 40 Hertz.
Mice developed half as many amyloid beta plaques in their hippocampus.
Sound therapy for just an hour a day induced high-speed brainwaves that were able to break down the proteins.
More effective in reaching the hippocampus than visual stimulus.
Can also be combined with physical vibrations.
Animal models were genetically engineered to develop an ailment similar to Alzheimer’s but result might not translate to humans.

Trial shows Huntington’s drug could slow progress of disease – The Guardian – 11-Dec-2017
Drug suppresses the effects of the Huntington’s mutation that causes irreversible damage to the brain.
Huntington’s is caused by a single gene defect that is passed down through families.
Ionis-HTTRx works by intercepting the messenger molecule before the harmful protein can be made.
University College London led the phase 1 trial of synthetic strand of DNA drug.
Could potentially be adapted to target Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

No reduction in Alzheimer’s from drinking Souvenaid – NHS – 31-Oct-2017
Drinkers had less brain shrinkage and slightly better cognitive scores.
But no difference in number of people developing dementia.
24-month trial recruited 311 participants, aged 55 to 85 years.
Individuals were assessed at baseline, 6, 12 and 24 months.

Predicting Alzheimer’s Disease Earlier Than Ever – Singularity Hub – 2-Oct-2017
Alzheimer’s is one of the top 10 deadliest diseases in the United States.
It cannot be cured but new treatments can slow its progression if found early.
University of Central Lancashire used sensor-based technology with a diamond core to identify specific chemical bonds.
McGill University predict onset using artificial intelligence analysis using a single amyloid PET scan.
Darmiyan claims its software can pick up signals up to 15 years before the onset.

First hints Parkinson’s can be stopped – BBC News – 4-Aug-2017
Current drugs help manage the symptoms, but do not prevent brain cells dying. Patients given diabetes drug exenatide as well as their usual medication remained stable over 48 weeks of treatment. Trial on 62 patients, published in the Lancet. The drug is being tested in other neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s.

Sex link to older people’s brain power – NHS – 22-Jun-2017
Older men and women who engage in regular sexual activity have better cognitive functioning.
Possible due to biological effect of dopamine.
Sexual activity has elements of both social and physical activity which are also linked to better cognitive function.
Study can’t tell whether sexual activity keeps the brain functioning well, or whether people with better cognitive function are more likely to continue to have sex.

Mindfulness and meditation dampen down inflammation genes – New Scientist – 16-Jun-2017
Essentially reversing molecular damage caused by stress.
Genes related to inflammation became less active in people practicing mind-body interventions.
Genes controlled by NF-ĸB seem to be particularly affected.
Could help reduce the risk of physical disorders like asthma or arthritis.
Different MBIs (i.e. mindfulness, yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, relaxation response, breath regulation) had similar impact.
Meta study of 18 trials including 846 participants.

Experts excited by brain wonder-drug – BBC News – 20-Apr-2017
Drug may stop all neurodegenerative brain diseases, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Already safely used in people – Trazodone taken by patients with depression and DBM is being tested in cancer patients.
Hoping to start human clinical trials on dementia patients soon.

Scouts and guides provide mental health boost for life – BBC – 10-Nov-2016
Study finds scouts or guides have better mental health in later life.
15% less likely than other adults to suffer anxiety or mood disorders at the age of 50.
Could be the lessons in resilience and resolve that such organisations offer that has a lasting positive impact.
Same benefit was not evident from other types of volunteering.
Data from a lifelong study of almost 10,000 people from across the UK who were born in November 1958
COMMENT: Particularly important as suicide is the leading cause of death of British men under 50 years of age.

Mental health patients face ‘unacceptable mortality gap’ – iNews – 25-Oct-2016
Life expectancy of people with severe mental health problems today is the same as it was for the general population in 1950
People with severe mental illness (SMI) are over three times more likely to have a physical health problem.
Results in 10-20 year shorter life expectancy than the general population.

Cognitive speed training exercises reduce dementia – iMedicalApps – 1-Aug-2016
Brain training industry careful about claims after Lumosity was fined $50 million dollars for lack of evidence.
Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) study included 2,785 over 65s without evidence of cognitive impairment at start of trial.
New results using 10-year follow-up data showed a 33% decreased incidence of dementia in subjects who utilized the speed training exercises.
The more speed-of-processing sessions the greater the impact.

Implant releases antibodies to clear Alzheimer’s plaques – Kurzweil AI – 21-Mar-2016
Capsule placed under the skin releases antibody proteins that tag amyloid beta proteins for patient’s own immune system to attack.
Permeable membranes protect donor cells from attack by the immune system but also let them interact with the surrounding tissue to obtain nutrients.
To be most effective treatment has to be given before the first signs of cognitive decline.
Study in mice showed dramatic reduction of amyloid beta plaque over 39 weeks.

Reaction to stress important for heart health – ScienceDaily – 25-Feb-2016
More important to your health than how frequently you encounter stress.
One potential pathway linking stress to future heart disease is a dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system
Studied daily stress versus heart rate variability – higher variability is better as it reflects the capacity to respond to challenges.
Participants who perceived events as more stressful had lower heart rate variability.
909 participants over eight consecutive days.

Loneliness decreases life expectancy – Express – 5-Jan-2016
Social isolation in later life can prove fatal by exacerbating health problems.
Friends and family can reduce risk of hypertension by 54%.
Study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Mental health conditions dramatically reduce life expectancy – RSA – 23-Nov-2015
People with a serious mental health condition die 12-13 years younger.
– four times more likely to die as a result of diabetes
– two to three times more likely to die of heart disease
– nearly four times as likely to die of respiratory illnesses
– twice as likely to die of stroke
Full dataset available.

Parkinson’s patients remarkable recoveries in drug trial – Independent – 19-Oct-2015
Nilotinib has been used to treat patients with a certain type of leukaemia.
Works by boosting the ability to clear out proteins which accumulate in the brain.
Small clinical trial (12 people) tested on patients with Parkinson’s disease.
Some participants began talking again.
One individual who had been confined to a wheelchair was able to walk again.

Meditation Changes Your Brain for the Better – IEET – 2-Jul-2015
Real brain changes from meditation. Start slow as its easy to fail if you try to jump straight into 20 minutes of meditation a day

Fetal cells injected into brain to cure Parkinson’s – New Scientist – 26-May-2015
20 year old treatment rediscovered after late recovery in original patients

Alzheimer’s progress slowed by plaque-busting drug – New Scientist – 25-Mar-15

Meditation might slow the age-related loss of gray matter in the brain – UCLA – 5-Feb-15

New technique to Alzheimer’s restores already lost synapses – New Scientist – 21-Jun-13
Alternative to failed approaches that attack amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles.

Redefining Dementia as a Terminal Illness – Time – 14-Oct-2009
Dementia (including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease) more accurately defined as fatal brain failure: a terminal disease, like cancer, that physically kills patients, not simply a mental ailment that accompanies older age.
323 nursing-home residents with advanced dementia studied for 18 months.
Only seven patients had a major event during the final three months of life
Death due to a syndrome of symptoms and complications (eating, pneumonia, breathing, pain, fever)  caused by brain failure.
Should recognize and treat advanced dementia as a terminal illness requiring palliative care.

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