Return to Transcripts main page

CNN News Central

Scientists: Rare Gene Change May Help Delay Alzheimer's Disease; Pence Allies Launch Super PAC To Support His Potential Campaign; Sources: DeSantis To Launch 2024 Bid By End Of May; Scientists: Fossil Fuels Linked To Many Wildfires In U.S., Canada. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired May 16, 2023 - 14:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: A major clue in understanding Alzheimer's disease. Scientists say that a rare gene change could help protect people at risk for this type of dementia.

And these are the findings published in a new study and it documents a man diagnosed with the disease, who seemed fated to develop early memory loss, but he kept normal function for decades longer than he should have.

With us is CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

This, Sanjay, is fascinating. Walk us through what the researchers discovered here.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is really fascinating story. Down in Columbia, for 40 years, they have been studying this extended family and some 60,000 family. Most of them got early onset dementia in their 40s, and they tried to find the ones who didn't and find out what is different about them.

So that is how they conducted their study. They found among this population of people, most of the people were expected to develop the dementia in their 40s and 50s.

And one gentleman did not develop it until he was 72, and progressed quickly after that. And within two years, he actually died from pneumonia.

At that point, they looked at his brain. His brain had been donated to science and they were trying to figure out what is different here.

And they found evidence of the genetic mutation that led to the protein deposited in one particular area of the brain. Right here, sort of behind the frontal lobe area, an area responsible for the memories and things like that.

His brain had plaque and tangles and that sort of thing that you see with Alzheimer's, but in that one area, he seemed protected. And that is why, you know, researchers are so interested in this.

KEILAR: It is fascinating that they are looking at the brain and how it is in some ways the facts of Alzheimer's that he has that anomaly.

And his sister shared the same protective gene change, and it didn't help her as much, because the family says that she began cognitive decline earlier in her late 50s.

And so what is the takeaway there?

GUPTA: This is -- again, all of this is super interesting. And women develop Alzheimer's more than men, and two-thirds of the patients are women.

Why is that? Is there something specific in a woman's brain that something changes between the paces of the men and the women. We don't know, but it is somewhat protective, and not as much.

But it is going to make the researchers looking at the gender differences when it is coming to Alzheimer's as well, and different origins of the disease as well.

KEILAR: How do they go from looking at this man's brain and seeing the protein deposits that helped him, this genetic difference, and take that perhaps into some sort of treatment?

GUPTA: That is the question, Brianna. And let me just preface by saying that there is a long way from this to treatment.

And one researcher said now, just putting more realen (ph), which is this protein, into the brain to help, and specifically in this area of the brain to help. Doing that could be helpful in terms of people preventing Alzheimer's, preventing early onset dementia.


But I think there's another part of the story, which is that most of the drug treatments out there now, Brianna, are designed to clear the amyloid plaque.

And as you noticed in the study and I did as well, these patients that have fuller cognizance and doing well, had a lot of plaque in their brains still. So getting rid of the plaque may not be the answer.

People have speculated on it, but this is more evidence to suggest that focusing on the plaque is not the story here.

KEILAR: And so this is potentially groundbreaking. It's so interesting.

Sanjay, thank you for taking us through it.


GUPTA: You got it.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: New developments on two other stories we're following this hour.

First, the recovery of Jamie Foxx. According to a source, Foxx is undergoing treatment at a physical rehabilitation facility in Chicago where he has been receiving care for the past two weeks.

The source did not disclose exactly what Foxx is being treated for but the center does specialize in rehabilitation care for patients with physical impairments, brain or spine injuries.

And also, the man charged with attacking two members of Gerry Connolly's staff has been arraigned. That suspect appeared via video camera from the county detention center, was arraigned on four felony charges. He is being held without bond. His next hearing is scheduled for July 17th.

Meanwhile, CNN caught up with Congressman Connolly who reflected on the emotions running through his staff in the wake of the violent attack coming out of nowhere.

And he said, quote, "I think the hard part sets in now, the trauma. Even this morning, there was blood all over the rug. My staff cleaning it up."

Just such a shock.

And, Boris, we have seen the violence of lawmakers, and this is one more case of it.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: It happens far too often, Jim.

Well, the list of primary opponents for Donald Trump is getting longer. Mike Pence's allies have launched a super PAC to support him in a 2024 run. We have details next.

And it may look like he's on the trail with visits to but sources say Florida Governor Ron DeSantis plans to officially launch his campaign by the end of the month.

Still more ahead on CNN NEWS CENTRAL.



SANCHEZ: And now, to some of the other headlines we are watching this hour.

Home Depot is taking a hit. The company said that the sales fell by 4.5 percent at its stores in the latest quarter. The company is blaming higher interest rates and inflation for taking a toll on home projects, saying that 2023 is going to be a year of moderation for the home improvement market.

And also, a years-long abduction case finally coming to a happy ending. A shop owner in Asheville, North Carolina, is credited with alerting police to Kayla, who was 9 years old when she was taken by the non-custodial mother in Illinois back in 2017.

The store owner apparently recognized the pair after seeing them featured on the Netflix series "Unsolved Mysteries." The mother is now charged with child abduction.

And check this out. A wild scene at a youth baseball game in Jacksonville, Florida. A dust devil coming out of nowhere, swirling around Homeplate as the game was going on.

You can see 7-year-old Bauer Zoya playing catcher. The umpire pulling him to safety.

Listen to how Bauer described what happened to him.


BAUER ZOYA, 7-YEAR-OLD CATCHER: I could not breathe that much, and so I hurted my breath, and I felt like I could not touch the ground. And so I lifted up a little bit.

I didn't know what to do, so I was thinking about something that was happening and not like that. So, so I don't get freaked about.


SANCHEZ: Poor little guy. Thankfully, it appears nobody was hurt and the game was able to go on.


KEILAR: We can all learn a lot from Bauer. Think about something happy so we don't get freaked out.

So it appears that the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination will be getting more crowded. Sources telling CNN Mike Pence's allies are launching a new super PAC to back his potential candidacy.

It's one of the clearest signs yet that the former vice president will throw his hate into the ring.

Now we have Kristen Holmes with us on this story.

How soon can we expect Mike Pence to announce?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Recently, Mike Pence said he will likely make his decision before the end of June. Today, I spoke to an adviser who said that he is still on the timeline.

And once he does, when he gets into the race, he is in a unique situation, squaring off against his former boss, Donald Trump.

He is going to have an uphill battle, because we have DeSantis and Trump taking up all of the oxygen. DeSantis, himself, he has not declared. And the relentless attacks by Donald Trump on Mike Pence over January

6th, over Pence certifying 2020 election has hurt Pence with some factions of the Republican Party.

But it appears that Pence's team knows that. And one of the people tapped to lead the super PAC is Georgia Governor Brian Kemp's former political campaign manager.

As we know, kind of a similar situation. On a state scale, Kemp was attacked relentlessly by Donald Trump over his decision not to overturn the election results in his state.

And Trump ran someone against Kemp. Kemp ended up winning by 52 points in the primary and went on to win the governorship again in Georgia.


I'm told they are going to be replicating that strategy on a national scale, but the question is whether or not it is going to be possible -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Big question.

Kristen, thank you so much for that.


SCIUTTO: All right. So someone else may throw their hat in the ring. Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis is closer to joining the 2024 race as well. Sources tell CNN DeSantis is preparing to launch his bid for president by the end of the month.

DeSantis dipped his toes into the campaign with a weekend trip to Iowa where he warned fellow Republicans against what he called a "culture of losing," a vailed or not-so-vailed swipe at former President Trump.

CNN's Steve Contorno is joining us.

Steve, that Iowa trip, the place where lots of candidates or potential candidates go to test the waters and signal their intentions there.

Tell us about the plans of the announcement and how he is going to go after Trump voters specifically.

STEVE CONTORNO, CNN REPORTER: Yes, Jim. In that Iowa trip, it was right there in heart of Trump country, and where Trump won by 80 percent.

His people are telling me that DeSantis is making the final preparations to get into the race. I have two sources who say they expect him to make an announcement by the end of the month.

DeSantis next week is going to meet with the top donors in south Florida where the message will be to them is it is game time.

So, all of the groundwork has been laid at this point. And all that is left to happen is for DeSantis to jump into the race. And when he does, he is going to continue to make these contrasts with the former president.

And just like the one you mentioned, he wants to ally himself as a winner against Trump, the guy who lost in 2020.

He is a governor who gets stuff done. Trump is a leader who is often distracted and squandered a GOP majority in the first two years in office.

DeSantis has an administration where there's not a lot of drama, not a lot of leaks. The Trump White House was often engulfed in palace intrigue.

These are the contrasts that DeSantis believes and the team believes will give him a chance to make the case to Republican votes the Trump years, we love them for a lot of reasons, but it's time to move and get a fresh face in there, someone younger, some who is active, someone who can get things done.

That is why you are seeing him spending all of the time signing the bills and going around the state and touting his legislative policy victory.

Because he wants to enter the race and be able to say, I am a guy who got stuff done, and I will get it done if I am elected president.

SCIUTTO: And he is willing to draw contrasts but certainly not others. For instance, in the space of the cultural wars and the legislation that he is passing in Florida to back it up.

Steve Contorno, in St. Petersburg, thanks so much.


SANCHEZ: Still ahead, how carbon pollution could be linked to wildfires that have torched millions of acres in the western U.S. and Canada.

Stay with CNN. We're back in a moment.



SANCHEZ: The summer heat is already hitting some parts of the United States, which means the perilous wildfire season could soon follow.

Now scientists have released a new study that points the finger at one of the reasons behind these massive infernos, especially in the western United States and Canada - fossil fuels.

Bill Weir, CNN's chief climate correspondent, is here with more on this study.

Bill, these researchers are pointing specifically to carbon pollution and cement companies.

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, cement production hugely an incentive. That makes up 78 percent of total emissions as well.

But, Boris, this is basic climate attribution science, a growing field where they look at who put the most planet-cooking pollution in the air. Can you tie it to specific events?

If you look at the data, the planet has warmed upped up about 1.2 degrees Celsius since the Industrial Revolution.

Scientists looked at this and found just 88 companies are responsible for turning that temperature up by a half a degree Celsius there, a not-insignificant amount.

And the effect it has on wildfires, for example, since the 80s, is there is about an extra 20 million acres burned as a result of the business models of just those 88 companies.

Now of course, those companies would say we built the modern world and they'd be absolutely right.

But the unintended consequences hidden from the public is the heart of a lot of big lawsuits winding their way through the courts.

The Union of Concerned Scientists spokesperson said today when releasing this report that this is a pattern of behavior.

Many of these companies have known for decades about the consequences of climate change and engaged in this deliberate misinformation campaign to deceive the general public and cast doubt on climate science.

That will be the plaintiff's argument in so many cases across the country.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson from the American Petroleum Institute said the clear agenda of this group aside, many concerned scientists, America's oil and natural gas industry is focused on delivering affordable, reliable energy while reducing emissions.

They have long said that they learned about the hazards of climate change along with the rest of the general public and are doing their best to reverse the damage.

Soon judges will decide. They've been trying to get high-court judges to change venue. They want that decided in the conservative Supreme Court. So far, Boris, SCOTUS said, nope, you can go forward with these suits in local municipalities.


SANCHEZ: It's so important to point out, as you did, even though these companies denied they had an awareness of what the pollutants were doing to the environment, the researchers point out that they knew about it well before the general public and lied about it.

Bill Weir, thank you so much for that report.


SCIUTTO: We are watching the White House. Any moment now, Speaker McCarthy will sit down with President Biden again in the Oval Office to try to negotiate the debt limit before the clock hits zero. And it's getting close. Stay with us.