Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Scientists Looking at Brain Stimulation as a Possible Treatment for Alzheimer’s

Early research indicates brain stimulation might be effective for older Alzheimer’s patients with mild symptoms. However, a lot more study is still needed.
Sending electronic pulses through a brain that is being damaged by Alzheimer’s disease might become a new method of early treatment.
Deep brain stimulation is nothing new but using it as a more targeted therapy could yield dividends.

“Deep brain stimulation (DBS) implants have been used for over 30 years, mostly to treat the tremors of Parkinson’s disease patients,” Dr. Doug Scharre, director of the Division of Cognitive Neurology at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, told Healthline.
Scharre notes that while DBS treatment is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Parkinson’s disease, it’s still an experimental therapy when it comes to Alzheimer’s.
Lozano’s phase II trial directed stimulation at the fornix, a bundle of nerve fibers in the brain.
Researchers found that participants aged 65 or older appeared to experience a slower progression of the disease than younger participants.
Encouraged by these findings, Lozano and his team will launch phase III trials soon.
“I think it’s an interesting paper and it’s important to expand the types of therapies that we’re exploring,” James Hendrix, PhD, director of global science initiatives at the Alzheimer’s Association, told Healthline.
Hendrix did note this latest research involved a relatively small study group.
“The main aim was to look at safety in people with mild Alzheimer’s disease, and it does appear to be safe,” Hendrix said. “We just need more research to be done in this area before we can say for sure if this is going to be an effective treatment.”

Various areas of research

There are no expectations of finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease in the near future.
However, that doesn’t mean that researchers aren’t making breakthroughs.
“One of the most promising areas of research that’s ongoing right now is the research into biomarkers,” said Hendrix.
The reason that biomarkers are so important, particularly when it comes to developing drugs for Alzheimer’s patients, is that it gives doctors and researchers more definitive ways to diagnose the disease, particularly early in its progression when symptoms might be mild.
Source: healthline.com
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