Dr. Sterling Johnson joins in-depth discussion of Alzheimer’s disease research on WPR

Dr. Johnson shows slide show about researchSterling Johnson, PhD, recently joined host Emily Auerbach for an in-depth discussion about Alzheimer’s disease research on The Ideas Network of Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR). Johnson discussed strategies to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, exciting therapies and new developments in the field, and the research being done by the study he leads, the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention (WRAP).

Johnson discussed how years of work and research have led to the current field: where Alzheimer’s disease is detected from evidence of proteins in the brain and researchers are understanding these proteins can be discovered many years before symptoms of disease start. Current research is targeting how lifestyle factors like sleep, physical activity, social and cognitive enrichment can improve symptoms, and how links between body and heart health impact brain health.

“We can now understand with such accuracy who has these proteins in their brain. And that they do start to become detectable many, many years before symptoms do,” he said. “It’s creating a lot of possibilities for early detection so we can get people into treatment studies or into the right therapies, as those therapies come along.”

The interview mentioned blood detection and it’s role as an important new avenue of Alzheimer’s disease research; and how WRAP and other studies at UW–Madison continue to look for links between health, lifestyle factors and cognition.

“These other health conditions, they can cause vascular changes in the brain. I don’t think they’re necessarily going to cause Alzheimer’s disease,” Johnson said. “But it is true if you’re not controlling your other health conditions, you’re putting yourself in a vulnerable place in regard to brain disease … We know that the more we can keep our minds and brains healthy, the longer we can avoid symptoms, if we’re destined to get those symptoms in our future because we have the proteins in our brain.”

Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease” aired live on WPR’s University of the Air on Sunday, September 3, 2023, and was published on WPR’s website on September 5, 2023.