More on Alzheimer's Research

by Maureen E. Hook, Ph.D.
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It seems every month or so there is an article about Alzheimer’s disease. If one would only drink tea, or eats walnuts, or play bridge, one could lower one’s chances of contracting the illness. For the layperson, this all seems a bit confusing and not very hopeful, since you may have had relatives (like I have had) who contracted the disease anyway, despite their healthy lifestyles.
However, there is some genuinely good news to report now. Scientists at several research hospitals and universities are now going to test various drug therapies on the Alzheimer’s-like cells created in a petri dish. Heretofore, experiments were conducted on mice. Though mice were a good start in early research, the ability to test cells in a petri dish will permit them to test more drugs and get faster results. Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston are responsible for this breakthrough. There will be some limitations, but on the whole, it is considered a giant leap in the research process. One limitation might be that they will not be able to study the effects of immune system cells on the disease’s progression. Immune system cells come into play, it is thought, once the disease is underway.
Dr. Rudolph E. Tanzi was the lead researcher in the project at Mass. General. He and his staff used human embryonic stem cells plus a mixture of chemicals in petri dishes lined with an ordinary gel to transform the stem cells into neurons. They then injected the neurons with Alzheimer’s genes. After a short wait, the plaques and tangles which are characteristic of Alzheimer’s began to appear. The secret seemed to be the gel, which allowed the neurons to grow and connect. Previously, a liquid base had used, and the neurons did not thrive. Other researchers at Columbia University and Duke University, to name a few, are thrilled with the new development. Stay tuned as this research hopefully develops new treatment options for those with Alzheimer’s disease. (Gina Kolata of The New York Times, reprinted in The Virginian-Pilot, “An ‘aha’ moment in Alzheimer’s research?” October 13, 2014, p. 8)

Kit KatAsk Kit Kat: Feeding The Birds

Hook Law Center:  Kit Kat, how do certain birds like blackbirds feed themselves?
Kit Kat: Well, red-winged blackbirds, grackles, and other birds in the blackbird family love to feed on sunflowers. They consider it a delicacy. The problem is that sunflowers are grown commercially, so in the areas that grow sunflowers, the birds are considered a nuisance. The blackbirds and their cousins have even been harassed, shot at, and even been poisoned by the sunflower growers who sell the giant seeds to humans. Humans love the seeds, too, as healthful snacks. Sunflower seeds can also be processed to make a cooking oil.
So, it turns out that the blackbirds and the seed growers are in conflict. It’s gotten to the point now where blackbirds, which were very common, are now reduced significantly in number. The State of the Birds 2014 reports says, “Keeping common birds common, while we still can, is as important as preventing extinctions of rare species.” We don’t want blackbirds to become an endangered species.
So, what can we do to help blackbirds and their cousins? Well, for one thing, if you have a yard or a terrace, you can grow plants that will be alternatives for the blackbirds to feed on. Coneflowers, winterberry hollies, oaks, sumac, and many more are other favorites of the blackbird species. It’s best to let nature take its course, and let birds feed naturally on what is around them, instead of relying on handouts from humans. If we encourage the commercial production of sunflowers and other seeds, we may be hurting the very birds we hope to help. While there will always be a market for sunflower seeds and oil, we don’t have to increase the demand by their use in birdfeed. Other healthful bird feeds can be concocted at home–like peanut butter and vegetable suet (in place of beef suet which is produced in factory farms).
It is further recommended by avian experts that blackbirds and other birds be fed only during the coldest part of winter. During other times of the year, they can do just fine on their own if plentiful, natural alternatives are available. (Nancy Lawson, “First, Do No Harm–What You Don’t Know Can Hurt Birds,” All Animals, November/December 2014, p. 36-37)
Upcoming Events

  • December 2, 2014 -Hook Law Center is sponsoring Senior Advocate’s Active Aging Series at Westminster Canterbury, 3100 Shore Drive, Virginia Beach  VA  23451.   HLC Attorney Shannon Laymon-Pecoraro will provide an overview of Hook Law Center’s Practice Areas at the meeting which begins at 10:00 a.m. To RSVP, please call Senior Advocate at 757-645-6364. RSVP responses will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis. For a list of speakers, please click here.  Each session includes a complimentary lunch. We look forward to seeing you there.
  • December 10, 2014 – Andrew Hook will be a co-presenter at a webinar, sponsored by The ARC, on the topic, First Steps in Future Planning: Letters of Intent and Financial Planning from 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Eastern. Mr. Hook will be presenting with Hye Kyong Jeong, the Director of Outreach and Advocacy at The Arc of King County, Washington. Registration is free.  Click here, then click the blue “registration” link to save your “seat!”
  • January 22, 2015 – Andrew Hook will be speaking to the Portsmouth Community Criminal Justice Board regarding how the aging population may affect the court system.
  • January 29 – 31, 2015 – Andrew Hook will attend the NAELA Summit in Newport Beach, California.
  • February 3, 2015 – Andrew Hook will be speaking at King’s Grant House regarding Long-term CareInsurance.
  • February 7, 2015 – Shannon Laymon-Pecoraro will be speaking to the Down Syndrome Association of Hampton Roads’ Baby Play Group.
  • February 20-21, 2015 – Andrew Hook will be speaking on Managing a Small Law Firm at the 2015 VAELA UnProgram in Charlottesville, VA.

Special Announcement 

The Hook Law Center, a leader in the field of Elder Law, serving Hampton Roads, is seeking an experienced Elder Law attorney. The firm has an AV Martindale rating, offices in both Virginia Beach and Suffolk, and attorneys who have held leadership positions in the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the Special Needs Alliance, and the Virginia Bar Association. The ideal candidate will have expertise in public benefits,guardianshipspecial needs planningestate planning, taxation, and trust & estate administration. The candidate must also have excellent writing, research, and communication skills.  Our goal is to attract an attorney who will work collaboratively with our experienced staff, provide  consistent, high-quality client service, strive to improve his or her skills and seek relevant certifications, and is motivated to continue the success of our firm. Membership in the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys or certification in Elder Law or Financial Planning is desirable. Please send resume and references to Sandra Buhr, Office Administrator, at sbuhr@hooklawcenter.com.

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This report is not intended as a substitute for legal counsel. While every precaution has been taken to make this report accurate, Hook Law Center assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the information in this report.