Another menopausal myth is challenged: Women with existing coronary disease do not realize improvement in their cognitive function as a result of taking the most common form of hormone replacement therapy, a UCSF study has found. Investigators followed more than 1000 women from ten US test sites for four years. Half took a placebo; the other half took hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Although other, smaller studies have shown an improvement, in the UCSF study the women who received HRT performed no better on standard tests of cognitive function than those who received placebo.
Researchers have discovered a way to refine an experimental Alzheimer’s vaccine, a finding that could pave the way for new treatment and prevention of the debilitating disease that affects people’s ability to think and recall information. Alzheimer’s occurs when toxic biochemical compounds known as amyloid-beta peptides accumulate in the brain, forming plaque deposits and injuring nerve cells, which eventually causes dementia. In 2000, researchers at the Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases published a paper showing how the amyloid-beta peptide vaccine blocked the production of the plaques and reversed learning impairment. The vaccine stimulates the body’s immune system into forming antibodies against the plaques in the brain, but it also caused inflamation. This new research claims to have found a way to better isolate the active epitope detected by antibodies. After testing a more refined, targeted amyloid-beta vaccine on mice, the scientists found that the antibodies generated by the vaccine cleared away the plaques — improving cognitive function in the mice and leaving no evidence of brain inflammation.