Did You Know… that a new Alzheimer’s treatment may be able to fully restore memory function?
In a truly astonishing new study on Alzheimer’s, Australian researchers treated 75 mice with a non-invasive technique aimed to restore memory. The results? Seventy-five percent of the mice got their memories back!
This is incredibly promising news for 50 million people worldwide who are affected by this cruel disease. At present, we have no vaccine or effective treatment for Alzheimer’s. But now, this promising research from the team at the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) at the University of Queensland offers a reason to hope.
The Plaques and Tangles of Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s patients usually have a build-up of two types of lesions in the brain:
- Amyloid plaques
- Neurofibrillary tangles
Amyloid plaques sit between the neurons and form dense clusters of beta-amyloid molecules. Beta-amyloid molecules are sticky proteins that clump together and form plaques. These plaques are responsible for memory loss and cognitive decline.
Neurofibrillary tangles are found inside the neurons of the brain. They are caused by defective proteins that clump up into a thick, insoluble mass. This, in turn, causes tiny filaments called microtubules to twist up and block the transport of important nutrients in the brain.
Non-Invasive Treatment That Works
The QBI researchers, who published their results in Science Translational Medicine, used a non-invasive ultrasound technology to clear the brain of amyloid plaques.
The technique involved a type of ultrasound called a “focused therapeutic ultrasound.” It non-invasively beams sound waves into the brain tissue. By oscillating on a high speed, the sound waves safely open the blood-brain barrier. This stimulates the brain’s microglial cells, which specialize in waste removal. Those cells then move past the blood-brain barrier. The barrier closes again within a few hours, but in the meantime, the microglial cells are able to clear out the toxic beta-amyloid clumps.
75% of Test Subjects Regained Memory
The QBI team reported that the technique restored the memories of 75% of the mice they tested it on. And there was absolutely no damage to the surrounding brain tissue. Treated mice displayed improved performance in three memory tasks…
- A maze
- A test to get them to recognize new objects
- A test devised to help mice remember the places they should avoid
“We’re extremely excited by this innovation of treating Alzheimer’s without using drug therapeutics,” said one of the researchers in a press release. “The word ‘breakthrough’ is often misused, but in this case I think this really does fundamentally change our understanding of how to treat this disease, and I foresee a great future for this approach.”
Soon, the team hopes to start trials with higher animal models, such as sheep. Human trials will be underway by 2017.