Health

Neurodegeneration: The latest stories from the scientific community

Published 6:18 AM ET, Fri March 2, 2018
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College freshman Indrani Das hit headlines in 2017 for her research into brain cells and preventing the damaging side effects that occur when the brain heals. For people with brain injuries and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, her findings could one day help them live a better life.

Scroll through to discover more of CNN's coverage of neurodegenerative disease research.
A study published February 2018 stated that walking while counting backwards was an accurate way to differentiate between idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus (a condition that affects elderly mobility, which may sometimes be reversed with early treatment) from a form of dementia called progressive supranuclear palsy. The two are often confused by doctors, but a pressure-sensitive carpet and detailed study of a patient's gait demonstrated key differences between the two conditions. Read more shutterstock
A February 2018 study looked at over one million adults diagnosed with dementia released from French hospitals between 2008 and 2013. It found a diagnosis of alcohol-use disorders ("the chronic harmful use of alcohol or alcohol dependence") among 16.5% of male subjects and 4% of female subjects with dementia -- more than twice the levels of those without dementia. There was a particularly strong association for those with early-onset dementia. Read more DMITRY KOSTYUKOV/AFP/Getty Imag
A study released in February 2018 claims scientists in Australia and Japan have developed a new blood test to detect the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. The noninvasive test was developed to detect the presence of the toxic protein amyloid beta, known to be present in people affected by the disease, and did so with 90% accuracy, according to the paper. Read more Florey Institute/University of Melbourne
In December 2017 an experimental drug was shown to reduce levels of the toxic protein that causes Huntington's disease, an inherited disorder in which mutated proteins damage nerve cells in the brain. The new drug, Ionis-HTTRx, was shown to be safe for humans in a trial of 46 patients and was described as a "potential game-changer." Read more Shutterstock
In November 2017, tech billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates announced a $50 million investment in the Dementia Discovery Fund, a research partnership focused on what drives brain disease. "Several of the men in my family have this disease (Alzheimer's)," Gates told CNN's Dr Sanjay Gupta. "I've seen how tough it is. That's not my sole motivation, but it certainly drew me in." Read more CNN
In September 2017, a study was published outlining an experimental blood test capable of diagnosing Alzheimer's with 86% sensitivity and specificity. (Sensitivity refers true positives identified by the test, while specificity refers to true negatives.) Read more John Moore/Getty Images
A study in the journal Neurology dated September 2017 suggested people who get less REM (dream-stage sleep) may be at higher risk for developing dementia. The study found that people who took longer than the typical 90 minutes to enter REM were more likely to get dementia. Read more Photo Illustration/Thinkstock
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, known as CTE, was found in 99% of deceased NFL players' brains that were donated to scientific research, according to a study published in July 2017. The neurodegenerative brain disease can only be formally diagnosed with an autopsy at present. The study points out potential bias because relatives of these players may have submitted their brains due to clinical symptoms they noticed while they were living. Read more David Lee/Shutterstock
In May 2017 the US Food and Drug Administration approved Radicava to treat patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) -- the first new drug approved to treat the neurodegenerative disease in over two decades. The progressive disease affects nerve cells in the brain and spine, causing the gradual loss of muscle movement, leading to paralysis and death. Tests in Japan found patients experienced a smaller decline in daily functioning than those who received a placebo, with the manufacturer saying the drug slowed the decline of physical function by 33%. Read more MT Pharma America
A March 2017 report stated that every 66 seconds an American will develop Alzheimer's disease -- and that could reduce to 33 seconds by 2050. The cost for dementia and Alzheimer's care in the US hit $259 billion in 2017, with Harvard professor Rudy Tanzi arguing the extra stresses of baby boomers developing Alzheimer's could "single-handedly collapse Medicare/Medicaid." Read more SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP/Getty Images
1% of 60-year-olds have Parkinson's, rising to 4% by the age of 80, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Traditionally a painful spinal tap was required to differentiate Parkinson's from other similar diseases (an atypical parkinsonism disorder). But a new study was reported in February 2017 to have found a way to distinguish Parkinson's via a blood test. Read more MAXIM MARMUR/AFP/Getty Images
In December 2016, experts said they still hold out hope for a drug to combat the disease by 2025 -- most likely a pilot version that will need to be upgraded. The goal was first outlined at a G8 dementia summit in 2013. CNN profiled a number of studies to tackle the diseases from different angles. Read more BSIP/UIG/Getty Images
In February 2016 CNN profiled the Gyroglove, hardware proposed as a drug-free alternative to Parkinson's tremors. Treatments for the disease become less effective over time, and there is no known cure. The GyroGlove uses a disk mounted in the back of the hand which spins at around 20,000rpm, which steadies motion. Read more Gyrogear