Extra virgin olive oil prevented build-up of toxic proteins in brains of mice

Researchers fed extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) to mice that are genetically engineered to get dementia from the accumulation of toxic proteins (tau proteins) in the brain that lead to alzheimer's. After six months the researchers saw a "60% reduction in toxic tau deposits in the brains of the mice fed the EVOO-enriched diet compared to the mice eating a regular diet," reports Forbes.

The article includes some caveats to this promising news:

While this line of research is promising (along with the list of EVOO studies leading up to the latest), a few limitations apply. Mouse research can point to important directions for human research, but it’s not the same as human research and does not demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship between EVOO and brain-health benefits for humans. The positive results found in this and related studies suggest potential benefits, but they are not “proof” of anything.

Along with that limitation, it’s also important to note that the accumulation of tau in the human brain typically occurs over many years, for reasons we’re only starting to understand. The mice in this and related studies have been genetically altered to develop a similar condition in a matter of months. While this acceleration provides a useful model for research, it’s not nearly the same as what happens in humans over the course of decades.

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash Read the rest

New study discovers why coffee can protect the brain, and it has to do with the kind of roast you drink

Although scientists already believed that drinking coffee could possibly reduce the risk of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, a new study by Krembil Brain Institute in Toronto, Canada suggests that the kind of roast you drink might determine how much protection your cup of joe might actually give you. Read the rest

Vaccine could prevent Alzheimer's plaque from building up

Researchers are starting to think that Alzheimer’s disease could be caused by microbial infections that cause plaque to form in the brain. This opens the possibility for a vaccination against Alzheimer's.

Support for the immune defence idea comes from work by Jacobus Jansen of Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Using MRI brain scans, his team has found that people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease have more permeable blood-brain barriers, suggesting that they may have developed the disease because their brains were more vulnerable to attack. “The microbe hypothesis seems plausible,” says Jansen.

If infectious agents are kicking off the formation of plaques, then vaccines could head them off. “You could vaccinate against those pathogens, and potentially prevent this problem arising later in life,” says Moir.

If many microbes are involved, immunising against them all will be hard, says Jansen. “But if the frequency of certain pathogens is quite high, there might be a possibility.”

In the meantime, don't get a brain infection. Read the rest

Artist's self portraits reflect progression of Alzheimer’s disease

American artist William Utermohlen (1933-2007) was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1995. For the remaining five years of his life, he painted self-portraits which revealed the progression of the disease and its effects, as well as Mr. Utermohlen's heartbreaking, desperate attempts to understand what was happening to him. Read the rest

Fear and Trembling: Prion diseases on Twitter

Even if you don't immediately recognize the words "prion" or "Kuru", the history of these pathologies has seeped into popular culture like a horrifying fairy tale. But it's true: a tribe in New Guinea ate the dead, not as Hollywood-style savages but to respect the dead. Upon death, you took a part of them into yourself. And that included the brain.