Presentation at the Alzheimer’s Solutions Conference

Co-Founder Matt Golden presents on how the MapHabit™ technology is helping people with memory impairment live better.

Each year, the leading researchers, thoughts leaders, and businesses gather to discuss the latest innovations in Alzheimer’s mitigation and prevention at the Alzheimer’s Solutions Conference. This year, we had the honor of presenting on how we are helping every stakeholder in memory impairment: the patient, caretaker, and patient’s family, work together to restore dignity and maximize independence for those suffering with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and all forms of memory impairment.

We enjoyed a wonderful exchange of ideas with conference attendees and are excited to continue working alongside all those fighting for a future where the only thing people struggle to remember is the damaging effects that memory impairment once had.

To watch the presentation in its entirety, click on the graphic below:

Thanks to InvestAcure, PBC for this great opportunity; the work you are doing is making a difference, and we are looking forward to continuing our partnership in coming years.

To learn more about how we help those struggling with memory impairment live better, click HERE, and if you or someone you know is interested in staying up to date on the release of our solution in the coming months, follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, or reach out via email at info@maphabit.com.

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Alzheimer’s Disease and the Promise of Precision Medicine as an Intervention

(Continued)

Written By: Stuart Zola, Ph.D.
Emeritus Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic affairs,
Emeritus Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322
Research Career Scientist (Retired), Atlanta VA Health Care System

Introduction

In my previous post, I discussed the fact that Alzheimer’s disease traditionally has been viewed as a one-size-fits-all medical condition. An important new perspective would be to re-think and re-frame Alzheimer’s disease as a spectrum disorder, much like the evolution of re-thinking and reframing autism to autism spectrum disorder. Considering Alzheimer’s as a spectrum disorder sets the stage for the application of one of the most promising and innovative approaches in modern medicine, personalized, precision medicine.

Precision medicine, sometimes called personalized medicine, refers to the tailoring of medical treatment to the individual characteristics of each patient. Several core components of precision medicine have been identified, including comprehensive risk assessment, tools for early detection of pathological processes, and interventions tailored to an individual’s drivers of disease. These components, and others, speak to the potential power that precision medicine could have both in identifying specific profiles of Alzheimer’s disease, and, in turn, developing more effective interventions and treatments that can be targeted at specific aspects of the disease, and that can be personalized to individualized treatment.

Considerable research on Alzheimer’s disease is focused on understanding genetic risk. Indeed, a core component of precision medicine are tools for early detection of pathological processes, including genetic mutations and changes, and other approaches that focus on the molecular level, including discoveries of a range of identified biomarkers.

However, it is likely that environmental factors also will be key to risk assessment and to understanding and developing the most effective interventions. For example, it is well known that traumatic head injury increases the risk for Alzheimer’s. There are now established protocols for treating traumatic head injury, as well as individual counseling protocols to reduce future risk in cases of traumatic head injury. These include patient management and frequency of surveillance for preclinical AD. While treatment options for head injury, and for other risk factor conditions, can alter the course of vulnerability to Alzheimer’s for some individuals, it is less effective for others. Precision medicine can begin to help us understand why by uncovering how head trauma might interact with existing but undetected or latent pathophysiological processes and certain genetic dispositions that aim some individuals toward AD vulnerability.

Most recently, an additional effective strategy in precision medicine has been recognition of the potential impact of behavioral assessment tools, because they link so directly to the most obvious defining characteristic of Alzheimer’s, i.e., cognitive decline.

New and innovative behavioral assessment approaches have been developed and aimed at preclinical detection of oncoming cognitive decline based on our understanding of the underlying neurology of memory function. These behavioral assays are fast becoming part of precision medicine approaches because of the ability of these assays to selectively target dysfunction in particular brain regions and even identify specific brain structures. This kind of behavioral information will become invaluable in uncovering the relationships between symptoms in preclinical and established Alzheimer’s disease, the potential biomarkers, genetic markers, and pathophysiologic processes that underlie the disease.

The time is ripe for the convergence of two ideas, i.e., reframing Alzheimer’s disease as a spectrum disorder, and the application of personalized, precision medicine to Alzheimer’s disease as a spectrum disorder. We must come to the realization that there are many profiles of Alzheimer’s disease. The application of precision medicine will be the most effective and efficient way for us to discover and unpack the underlying neurology and genetics of Alzheimer’s profiles so that effective individualized treatments and interventions can be developed. In my next post, I’ll discuss additional behavioral interventions that could turn out useful not for predicting oncoming cognitive decline, but instead for more effectively managing individuals who are already affected by Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Stuart Zola is Co-Founder of MapHabit™. Learn more about MapHabit’s™ work to help people with memory impairment live better HERE.

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Alzheimer’s Disease as a Spectrum Disorder

And The Promise of Precision Medicine as an Intervention to the Spectrum of Symptoms

Written By: Stuart Zola, Ph.D.
Emeritus Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic affairs,
Emeritus Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322
Research Career Scientist (Retired), Atlanta VA Health Care System

Overview

Alzheimer’s disease traditionally has been viewed as a one-size-fits-all medical condition. Thinking of Alzheimer’s disease as a single disease state assumes that there is a single “magic bullet” that once found will effectively treat or cure all patients. However, as we know, there is no disease-modifying therapy for this disease yet, and despite several decades of research no cure and no effective treatments have been forthcoming. Interventions to stop, slow, or prevent the progression of Alzheimer’s are a world-wide healthcare imperative. In this regard, the present commentary proposes the following point for consideration:

Alzheimer’s disease should be reframed as a spectrum disorder (much like the reframing of autism), and as such individual Alzheimer’s patients will need to be profiled differently to maximize the efficacy of treatment and preventive measures.

Alzheimer’s Disease as a Spectrum Disorder

While earlier criteria for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease were based on clinical criteria alone, new criteria for Alzheimer’s disease have been recently established that now includes the clinical characteristics of Alzheimer’s as well as the pathological features of the disease. The new criteria include the use of imaging and other biomarkers to aid in diagnosis and in understanding the underlying neurologic and genetic bases for behavioral changes associated with Alzheimer’s. Additionally, clinical features are now being supplemented with innovative behavioral assessment tools that currently are being validated and that can inform us further about the spectrum of Alzheimer’s disease.

A little medical history is helpful here. Some years ago, the condition known as autism was considered a “one-size-fits-all” condition. Research and clearer understanding of the condition did not advance until the condition became re-framed as autism-spectrum disorder. That is, although there was a core set of symptoms that helped define autism, it became clear that individuals could have different patterns and combinations of those symptoms. Importantly, the view developed that the evidence that one size did not fit all meant that treatments might more effectively be tailored to a particular individual’s pattern or profile of symptoms. Hence, the terminology of spectrum disorder.

In the field of Alzheimer’s disease, studies have begun to reveal varied patterns of behavioral changes and abnormalities. Many of these studies point to the fact that not all patients exhibit the same range and severity of behavioral abnormalities associated with Alzheimer’s and there are different profiles. Some behavioral changes do not seem directly correlated with impairments in cognition, for example. In a study of behavioral changes in Alzheimer’s disease where the frequency and severity of ten commonly reported behaviors were assessed, it was reported that the most common behavior was apathy, exhibited by 72% of the patients, followed by agitation (60%), anxiety (48%), dysphoria (38%), and disinhibition (36%). Agitation, dysphoria, and apathy were significantly correlated with cognitive impairment, but many other behavioral measures were not.

These findings, and others, point to the idea that despite having a diagnosis of AD, individual patients can have quite different clinical/behavioral profiles, and while some behavioral changes can be linked to cognitive changes, others are not.

Patterns of behavioral changes can be variable from patient to patient, even within a diagnostic category, e.g., mild, moderate or severe Alzheimer’s. When the cumulating research is taken together, it suggests that a perspective on Alzheimer’s disease could benefit from rethinking it and reframing it as a spectrum disorder. Moreover, considering Alzheimer’s as a spectrum disorder sets the stage for the application of one of the most promising and innovative approaches in modern medicine: personalized, precision medicine. I’ll discuss that development in my next post.

Dr. Stuart Zola is Co-Founder of MapHabit™. Learn more about MapHabit’s™ work to help people with memory impairment live better HERE.

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Our Vision

We want to live in a world where families and caregivers have the tools to work together towards reducing the effects of memory loss for those in their care. If you believe in our vision as well, please subscribe to receive ongoing updates, helpful articles and community support.

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