Dementia research news winter 14 brief

Care and cure magazine - Winter 2014

Antioxidants found in cocoa known as flavanols can improve brain function by increasing blood flow to an area of the brain affected by ageing. Although the amount of flavanols actually found in chocolate would be too small to have an effect, this could prompt further research into their effects on dementia.

A new technique to detect inflammation in the brain was presented at the Society for Neuroscience conference in Washington DC. A tracer molecule has been developed that highlights areas of inflammation in PET brain scans in mice. Inflammation appears to be a significant part of Alzheimer's disease and this development could help to monitor the effects of potential drugs.

Thinning of the retinas could be a predictor for frontotemporal dementia, according to researchers at University of California, San Francisco. They found that people with genetic mutations that cause frontotemporal dementia tended to have thinner retinas. This deterioration appeared before the participants developed symptoms and could be one of the earliest observable signs.