Alzheimer’s Breakthrough Helps Restore Memory Function

“New Alzheimer’s treatment fully restores memory function”… I have to admit when I first read this headline, I thought: “Oh dear, what hellish drug is now being released onto the market?”

But it’s not a drug… and it is also not invasive. Two major benefits of any treatment, if you ask me.

Sounds great

Alzheimer’s disease affects around 50 million people worldwide and since mainstream medicine is still trying to learn exactly what causes the disease it has also been slow in coming up with effective ways to prevent and treat the disease.

So far, we know that Alzheimer’s disease is caused by a build-up of two types of lesions in the brain, called amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Amyloid plaques sit between the neurons and end up as dense clusters of beta-amyloid molecules, a sticky type of protein that clumps together and forms plaques. Neurofibrillary tangles are found inside the neurons of the brain, and they’re caused by defective tau proteins that clump together into a thick, insoluble mass.

These clusters and clumps of proteins form tiny threads that can get twisted, disrupting the transportation of essential compounds like nutrients to and inside the brain, similar to when you twist the tube of a vacuum cleaner.

Now, researchers in Australia claim that they have found a way to counteract this process with ? and get this ? sound waves! The study, published in Science Translational Medicine, describes the technique as using a particular type of ultrasound called focused therapeutic ultrasound, which non-invasively beams sound waves into the brain tissue.

By oscillating super-fast (moving back and forth), these sound waves are able to gently open up the blood-brain barrier ? a layer that protects the brain against bacteria ? and stimulate the brain’s microglial cells to activate. Microglia cells are basically waste-removal cells, so they’re able to clear out the toxic beta-amyloid clusters that are responsible for the worst symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

The researchers say they were able to fully restore the memory function of 75 per cent of the mice they tested it on, with zero damage to the surrounding brain tissue. They found that the mice displayed improved performance in three memory tasks ? a maze, a test to get them to recognise new objects, and one to get them to remember the places they should avoid.

Commenting on their results, one of the researchers said: “We’re extremely excited by this innovation of treating Alzheimer’s without using drug therapeutics.” “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.”

The team says they’re planning on starting trials with higher animal models, such as sheep, and hope to get their human trials underway in 2017.

Obviously, we’re talking about the early stages of developing this treatment, but given the fact that no pharmaceutical drug has been able to deliver similar results, here’s for hoping that the mainstream for once will forget about filling their pockets by touting drugs that are far too often ineffective and side effect ridden, and instead give their full backing to developing this treatment.

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New Alzheimer’s treatment fully restores memory function, published online 18.03.15,