Changing the Future of All Minds

Dr. Frank Longo on What Young People May Teach Us About Aging

Maria Shriver recently spoke with preeminent neurologist Dr. Frank Longo about the promising Alzheimer’s research taking place today, including one trial currently underway at Stanford University that is examining whether young people have biologic factors that could help in treating the disease.

Longo, who works at the Stanford University School of Medicine, said researchers there have conducted a study where they took the blood plasma from younger mice and transferred it to aging mice with Alzheimer’s. The mice with the disease saw their memory function improve. Connections in the brain that had been lost also returned.

Now, the university has started a trial where they are taking plasma from young people and giving it to individuals with Alzheimer’s to see if the promising results they saw in the mice will translate to improvements for humans.

“We’re really jumping on aging mechanisms and opening up a new avenue of treatment,” Longo said. “The big mystery now is what is it in that young blood that’s preventing degeneration of the brain. My colleagues at Stanford are narrowing down to a few possibilities what’s in that young blood so some day we don’t have to treat with young blood plasma, but can treat with the proteins that are in that young blood plasma.”

Dr. Longo was joined in the conversation by Lily Sarafan, CEO of Home Care Assistance, the leading consumer health care company in the home care market. Understanding caregivers is such an integral part of understanding the impact of Alzheimer’s on families in America, Sarafan said. The most important thing we can do is recognize the impact it has on the 25 percent of American adults who are serving as caregivers in this country.

The best thing we can do as a society in caring for the caregiver is recognize the enormous burdens that we’re placing on women as primary caregivers, primary decision makers for health care in their family, and unfortunately, the ones who are suffering from Alzheimer’s in greater numbers,” she said.

Watch Maria’s full conversation with Dr. Frank Longo and Lily Sarafan below (embed video):

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