ReSource, Volume 13, 2001 Page: 19
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ish with age and which antioxidants are
the most effective and in what quantities.
For example, vitamin E has shown promise
in slowing down the progression of AD,
"The goal of our research here is to treat
what we call preventable brain aging," says
Simpkins. "We're looking at using a number
of therapies that we think are going to pre-
serve brain health and hopefully delay brain
aging as well as delay or prevent AD. We
believe that if we can prevent nerve cell
death, we can preserve cognitive function."
ru s and mental exercise
In addition to its research on amyloid
plaques and neurofibrillary tangles and its
development of genetic and biological tests
to detect the early stages of AD, the Institute
of Aging is researching ways to prevent brain
damage from stroke. And one of the most
exciting areas of future research at the insti-
tute is behavioral intervention - the idea
that simply using your brain may help keep
"There is anecdotal evidence and hard
data that what I like to call 'mental exercise'
is good for the aging brain and is probably
very good for the Alzheimer's brain, particu-
larly if it's instituted prior to the onset of the
disease," Simpkins explains.
"We don't know the kind of mental exer-
cise that's best, nor the amount
that's best. We don't know if it's
a short bout daily or long bouts
less frequently that are more
effective. We will be able to
design studies that get at those
issues. Hopefully we'll be able to
come up with prescribed behav-
ioral modifications for people
who are showing evidence of
The Health Science Center is
also developing new drugs for
the treatment of Alzheimer's
and plans a facility in which
to conduct clinical trials to
establish their effectiveness,
"We have coming out of our
lab 50 different compounds,
some of which we hope to start
in clinical development," he says.
Such optimism characterizes
Simpkins' view of the future of
Alzheimer's research and treat-
ment at the Health Science
"The issues we're looking
at are not being addressed
today anywhere else," he says.
"They're very important
A cerebral blood flow
monitor measures the
effects of drugs on brain
blood flow, a consideration
in developing new drug
therapies to delay brain
aging and possibly prevent
allow researchers to exam-
ine brain cells.
ecent progress in Alzheimer's
disease research has been dra-
matic, but there is still much to
learn before a cure can be discov-
ered. In the meantime, according to
the latest research, there are several
ways to reduce the risk of develop-
ing the disease.
"We're approaching the time when
we can say, 'Here are the things you
ought to be doing by the age of 55
or 60,"' says Simpkins.
"Certainly, keeping mentally
engaged is one. With people who
are cognitively active, the prediction
is and the data support that they're
less likely to show up with cognitive
Keeping physically active also
appears to be beneficial, Simpkins
says. Exercising, as well as keeping
one's blood pressure in check and
quitting smoking, can help reduce the
risk of stroke, which is strongly asso-
ciated with Alzheimer's disease.
The incidence of head trauma,
another risk factor, can be reduced
through the use of sports helmets and
It appears likely that antioxidant
supplements such as vitamin E have
a positive effect. "But to get the
effect, you probably need a much
higher dose than that found in typical
multivitamins," Simpkins says.
In addition, some studies have
shown anti-inflammatories, such as
ibuprofen, to be beneficial in treating
or slowing the progression of the
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University of North Texas. ReSource, Volume 13, 2001, periodical, 2001; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29774/m1/19/: accessed November 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting University Relations, Communications & Marketing department for UNT.