The PSP Family Conference, put on by the Society for PSP (Progressive Supranuclear Palsy), was held last Saturday near SFO.
As I had attended the ’04 PSP Family Conference and had heard Dr. James Tetrud speak before, I had different expectations of what he would say at this year’s conference. He is the neurologist at The Parkinson’s Institute who probably knows the most about Atypical Parkinsonism disorders, such as PSP, LBD, MSA, and CBGD. I compared his slides from ’06 to ’04, and was disappointed that there was nothing new to report in the area of research with one exception: at last Saturday’s conference he mentioned the Arctic ground squirrel.
During a 7-month hibernation, the squirrel’s brain loses many of the nerve-cell connections that govern how it operates. Tau protein accumulates in the brain — just like with Alzheimer’s Disease and PSP. (I’m sorry to say that I don’t know the pathology of the other Atypical Parkinsonism diseases.) Within 2 to 3 hours of emerging from hibernation, there is a wave of neuronal growth and tau is eliminated. Thus, there appears to be a mechanism to clear tau.
Dr. Tetrud referred to a recent Economist magazine article on the subject. I consider myself to have excellent follow-through and research skills but I was outdone on both of these fronts by Sam, a support group member who also attended the Saturday conference. He found the article in the Feb. 4th issue (page 72). Here’s a link to the article:
Sleeping on it
Similarities between dementia and hibernation suggest a treatment
Feb 2nd 2006
It’s interesting reading! Let’s hope something comes of it…