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Brain Health Round-Up: Moving Toward Cures for Brain Disease

October 2021 Brain Health Round Up

How brain disease research is improving our understanding of brain-body function and brain tissue inflammation, plus a heartbreaking look into life with a rare brain disease

Brain disease impacts so many aspects of so many lives. Thankfully, outstanding breakthroughs in the field of neurology are made every day, with more on the horizon. The NIH recently announced new projects to better understand brain-body function. In addition, researchers discovered information about the mechanisms causing Alzheimer’s that shows promise for the development of future treatments. Furthermore, a program supervised by the FDA allows patients with terminal illness to access experimental disease-modifying therapies. Finally, former NFL coach Tom Coughlin shares his wife’s struggle with a rare brain disorder and how it affects his caregiving. Continue reading to get the full stories.

NIH research projects on interoception to improve understanding of brain-body function

The National Institutes of Health is awarding seven projects that will address critical knowledge gaps and challenges in interoception. In order to gain a better understanding this process, which is the way organisms sense and regulate body signals. These projects will explore how dysfunctions in interoception may play an important role in neurological, psychiatric, and behavioral disorders. In time, we hope that one day it will lead us to develop better treatments for these conditions. The more we know about how the brain works, the closer we’ll get to finding cures for all brain diseases. Read more about the research being funded by this project.

How Patients with Terminal Illnesses Get Access to Experimental Drugs

Individuals experiencing terminal illness may be able to access experimental drugs under a program supervised by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) known as expanded access. This program, also called “compassionate use,” provides an avenue for patients with serious or life-threatening diseases who have no other treatment options to receive medication outside of a clinical trial that has yet to receive FDA approval. In some cases, patients may not meet criteria for participation in the trial or the trial may have already begun. Individuals must work with a doctor who is willing and able to pursue the process. They should also consider both the medical risks and financial considerations. Find out more about the expanded use program.

Human Study Suggests Brain Tissue Inflammation Is Key to Alzheimer’s Disease Progression

A study led by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine has identified neuroinflammation as a potential cause of cognitive impairment in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Neuroinflammation is an inflammatory response of the brain as well as spinal cord. For the first time, researchers have shown in living patients that neuroinflammation is not merely a consequence of disease progression. It is also a mechanism that contributes to the development of the disease. This means that targeting neuroinflammation might be beneficial for people with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease, even potentially helping reverse or slow down dementia. Learn more about this breakthrough discovery.

What is PSP? Former NY Giants coach reveals wife’s rare brain disorder

Former New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin revealed that his wife, Judy, suffers from progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), a rare and incurable brain disorder that affects an individual’s speech, vision, balance, ability to walk, and movement. While describing her decline as “gut-wrenching,” Coughlin wrote about the all-consuming nature of caregiving. The article also explains what PSP is as well as its causes and prognosis. Discover the full story.


The American Brain Foundation believes that, one day, we can live in a reality without brain disease—and it all starts with funding research to discover cures. To support our work of connecting scientists with donors, make your gift today.