Summer 2019 E-Newsletter

Summer 2019 UCLA Alzheimer's Research Center Newsletter

| Early-Onset AD | Clinical Trials | Caregiver Support Groups | Upcoming Events |


The Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research at UCLA has very active teams working on basic research, drug discovery, biomarkers for early diagnosis and clinical activity including clinical trials, cognitive testing, and patient care.[PDF Version]


Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease

Mario Mendez, MD, PhD

By: Mario Mendez, M.D., Ph.D.

Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, or “EOAD”, refers to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease at age 64 or younger. EOAD is often more difficult to diagnose than the more commonly recognized, late-onset disorder. Only 5-6% of individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease report symptoms before 65 years old, and this rarity, along with the unexpected occurrence at a relatively young age, frequently delays the diagnosis and management of EOAD.

For many years after Alois Alzheimer described his original patient, who presented at age 51, clinicians and investigators viewed EOAD as the only distinct form of Alzheimer’s disease. Although it is now clear that elderly patients also have Alzheimer’s disease, recent work has revived the concept that EOAD is a distinct form of the disorder. Memory concerns can be the primary area of concern for some individuals with EOAD, but many present with localized and predominant problems in language or speaking, in perception or visuospatial orientation, in the ability to calculate or write, and in other non-memory abilities. In addition, these individuals may not display any noticeable impairments in memory early on. These presentations of EOAD, known as variant syndromes, contribute to the difficulty diagnosing and managing patients with EOAD.

The diagnostic process involves behavioral, neurocognitive, and clinical biomarker procedures. In addition to assessing memory, neurologists may administer special examinations that test non-memory cognitive abilities, such as attention, language, vision, spatial navigation, calculations, and motor capabilities. In some cases, testing reveals a more typical, memory-predominant EOAD. In other cases, testing reveals deficits in specific domains that meet clinical criteria for one of the EOAD variant syndromes. These syndromes have their own names, such as primary progressive aphasia, posterior cortical atrophy, acalculia variant, and others. The variant syndrome names are confusing to patients and families, because they are primarily a description of symptoms and not of the underlying disease. The clinical evaluation, therefore, includes a number of “biomarker” studies in order to determine whether the variant syndromes are caused by an underlying focal or atypical EOAD. Procedures measuring biomarkers include lumbar punctures, also known as a ”spinal tap”, which measure amyloid and tau proteins in cerebrospinal fluid. Other biomarker procedures involve brain scans used to measure brain structures and functioning. For example, magnetic resonance imaging scans may reveal shape or volume changes in specific brain structures; positron emission tomography scans may reveal abnormalities in activity or metabolism in these structures; and special amyloid and tau scans can further clarify the presence of underlying Alzheimer’s changes.

Without a current cure, a patient’s clinical care following diagnosis is aimed largely at preserving cognition and slowing progression. It is very important to see a neurologist or physician who has expertise in the diagnosis and special management of patients with EOAD. Support groups, dementia programs, and case managers can help address the psychosocial difficulties faced by patients and their partners alike – taking into consideration the life stage of patients with EOAD, i.e., when they may be taking care of families, working and providing an income, and managing active careers.

Research continues forward in trying to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. With 95% of AD cases being late-onset, research opportunities specifically targeted at EOAD are limited. At UCLA, we are very fortunate to have two active NIH funded studies dedicated to investigating and understanding EOAD with the eventual hope of contributing to a cure. The UCLA Behavioral Neurology program is currently conducting two research studies. The first aims to clarify the variant syndromes of Early-onset AD through neurocognitive assessment and brain imaging analysis of which tracts and connections are involved. The second study is a multi-site, nationwide study investigating new radiotracer agents for detecting amyloid and tau in the brain scans of patients with EOAD.

For more information regarding clinical evaluations, please call the UCLA Neurology Clinic at (310) 794-1195.

For more information regarding EOAD studies, please call Randy Desarzant or Diana Chavez at UCLA Behavioral Neurology Research (310) 206-1480.

If you would like to learn more about how to support our research, please contact Director of Development, Marina Stavrakas at (310) 267-1837 or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Together, we can make a difference!

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Clinical Research Opportunities

If you would like to advance Alzheimer's disease research, please consider being a participant. Below are the current recruiting trials. For a complete list of enrolling studies, visit our website at www.eastonad.ucla.edu.

EASTON CENTER KAGAN CLINICAL TRIALS PROGRAM

BEHAVIORAL NEUROLOGY PROGRAM

OTHER PROGRAMS

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Caregiver Support Groups

 Cargiver Support Groups

In collaboration with the UCLA Alzheimer's and Dementia Care Program, the Easton Center is pleased to offer seven different caregiver support groups for family members providing either direct or indirect care for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease or another form of dementia. These support groups are FREE and provide a supportive environment in which to give and receive emotional and practical support from others who are on the same caregiving journey. We are pleased to offer general caregiver support groups as well as specific groups for caregivers of people with Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD), Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease, Lewy Body Dementia (LBD), and a support group for Spanish speaking caregivers. Click here for a complete list of these support groups. For more information or to join a group, please contact Monica Moore at (310) 794-3914 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Caregiver support group highlight
Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) Caregiver Support Group
Date: 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month
Time: 6:30 P.M. - 8:00 P.M.
Location: UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica
1250 16th Street, Room G-210, Santa Monica, CA 90404

This caregiver support group is the only one in Los Angeles County that is specifically for caregivers of people with Lewy Body Dementia. LBD is the 2nd most common form of dementia in people over the age of 65. The behaviors associated with this disease bring about challenges that are unique to LBD so we are fortunate to offer this group for these caregivers.

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For information on other upcoming lectures and events, please visit the Easton Center Community Calendar.

Alzheimer's Los Angeles Early Memory Loss Conference
Date: Thursday, October 10, 2019
Time: 10:00 AM - 3:30 P.M. (PDT)
Location: Valley Presbyterian Hospital
15107 Vanowen Street
Van Nuys, CA 91405

Sarah Kremen, M.D., Clinical Physician of Neurology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA will be one of the guest speakers at this conference, presenting on an “Update on Alzheimer's Disease and Research.”

This interactive conference, sponsored by Alzheimer's Los Angeles offers support, guidance and education to those diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, early Alzheimer's or related dementia, experiencing early memory loss, and their care partners or family members. For more information, please visit Alzheimersla.org.

Information: (844) 435-7259
Cost: $20 for general admission (limited scholarships available); $100 for professionals.


Rediscovering U: The Adventure Continues
Date: Saturday, October 19, 2019
Time: 1:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M. (PDT)
Location: UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica (Conference Center)
1250 16th Street
Santa Monica, CA 90404

Featured speakers: The Easton Center’s Sarah Kremen, M.D., Clinical Physician of Neurology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA will give a presentation on "Maximizing Brain Health." Cheryl Hunter, master coach and bestselling author on reaching your fullest potential, and Meredith Maran, author and speaker on reinvention and resilience. Workshops on Yoga as Medicine, Globetrotting on a Budget, and Get your Dance Groove On.

Interactive exhibits/demonstrations and chocolate/coffee tastings will be available.
RSVP: (800) 516-5323 or http://connect.uclahealth.org/calendar


2019 Alzheimer's Los Angeles | walk4ALZ ®
Date: Sunday, October 20, 2019
Time: 8:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M. (PDT)
Location: State Historic Park Downtown Los Angeles
1245 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Walk4ALZ® Los Angeles brings together local communities in the fight against Alzheimer's and other dementias. For over 25 years, Walk4ALZ® Los Angeles has raised funds to provide free care and support to tens of thousands of families throughout Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties. Join the Easton Center in walking to support Alzheimer's Los Angeles at this worthwhile event. Click here to join the “Easton Center” team.


TURNING POINT Movie Screening | The Quest for a Cure
Date: Friday, November 8, 2019
Time: 1:00 P.M. – 3:00 P.M. (PDT)
Location: James Bridges Theater at UCLA
235 Charles E. Young Drive West
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Hosted by:
Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research at UCLA and BrightFocus® Foundation
Click here to download the flyer.

Where will the future of Alzheimer's research take us? BrightFocus® Foundation, a leading funder of Alzheimer's research around the world, presents an exclusive screening and panel discussion of the new documentary, Turning Point. Acclaimed filmmaker and director James Keach (Walk the Line, Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me) follows a team of researchers on the front lines of Alzheimer's research and captures the perseverance and renewed hope of those working to find a cure for this incurable disease affecting nearly 5.7 million Americans.

RSVP: (310) 794-6191 or http://turningpoint_la.eventbrite.com


Newsletter Editorial Team:
Co-Directors of Training and Education Activities: Sarah Kremen, M.D. and Monica Moore, M.S.G.
Editor: Nancy Osuch, B.A.


Mailing Address:
Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research at UCLA
710 Westwood Plaza, Room C-224
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1769
| http://www.eastonad.ucla.edu | Phone Number: (310) 794-3665 / Clinic Appointments: (310) 794-1195 |
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Copyright © 2019. Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research at UCLA. All rights reserved.

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