ALBUQUERQUE — With more than 6 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, researchers are working tirelessly to advance science that will lead to earlier detection, preventions and additional new treatments for Alzheimer’s and all dementia.
This week, more than 10,000 researchers attended the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference® (AAIC®) 2022 both in-person at the event’s San Diego, Calif. venue – and virtually – to share the latest in Alzheimer’s and dementia science.
Researchers who convened in San Diego included two key presenters from New Mexico:
- Kiran Bhaskar, Ph.D. – Associate Professor, UNM; Co-Director, UNM Brain and Behavioral Health Institute (BBHI); Co-Director, New Mexico Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center). Dr. Bhaskar presented a poster on the subject of brain inflammation in driving Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (“Pathological tau activates nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) and drives neuroinflammation”).
- Gary Rosenberg, MD – Professor of Neurology, UNM; Director, Center for Memory and Aging, SOM – Neurology, SOM – Neurosciences, Director, New Mexico Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (NM ADRC). Dr. Rosenberg presented a poster on the subject of Diagnosis of mixed dementia by double dichotomy. Like Dr. Bhaskar, Dr. Rosenberg is also a member of the Medical Science Committee of the Alzheimer’s Association, NM Chapter.
Executive Director Tim Sheahan of the Alzheimer’s Association, New Mexico Chapter, also traveled to the conference, along with several other esteemed attendees from the state.
- Dr. Goutam Gupta (New Mexico Consortium); and
- Dr. Lena Ernst (Retreat Healthcare, Alzheimer’s Association Board Member).
“We were very pleased to have New Mexico so well represented at the conference. So much great research is happening right here our state,” Sheahan said. “It was impressive to have it presented alongside some of the most critical, ground-breaking dementia science in the world.”
“This year at AAIC, we heard new ideas about what makes us at risk, as well as a diverse array of treatments and prevention methods for Alzheimer’s disease and all dementia.,” Sheahan continues. “There has been great progress in Alzheimer’s and dementia research, and the work of the scientific community holds tremendous promise for the future.”
Highlights of the international conference include:
- Another reason to move your body. Results are in from the longest-ever clinical trial of exercise in older adults with mild memory problems. After 12 months of regular physical activity — aerobic exercise or stretching — study participants experienced no significant cognitive decline.
- Junk food might be hurting our brains. Researchers studied more than 10,000 people over eight years and found that high consumption of ultra-processed foods led to a 28% faster decline in cognitive function.
- Racism’s impact on memory. In a study of nearly 1,000 adults, exposure to interpersonal and institutional racism was associated with lower memory scores, especially among Black individuals.
- More long-term impacts of COVID-19. Researchers found that loss of smell due to COVID-19 infection may be a better predictor of long-term cognitive and functional impairment than severity of the illness.
- Earning less money may increase dementia risk. Compared with workers earning higher wages, sustained low-wage earners experienced significantly faster memory decline in older age.
Alzheimer’s takes a devastating toll – not just on those with the disease, but on entire families. In our own state, 43,000 New Mexicans over age 65 are living with Alzheimer’s disease. By 2025, that number is expected to rise to 53,000. Our state has 85,000 unpaid dementia caregivers, many of whom are family members, contributing 158 million hours of care valued at $2.6 billion.
*Source for all statistics: The 2022 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report at www.alz.org/facts.
About the Alzheimer’s Association
The Alzheimer’s Association is a worldwide voluntary health organization dedicated to Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Our mission is to lead the way to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia®. Visit alz.org/newmexico or call 800.272.3900.