ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimers disease. By 2050, that number is projected to be 13 million. There’s no cure, and so far, only one FDA approved drug that stops the progression in some cases. Ivanhoe has more on two cutting-edge treatments that researchers are hoping to bring from bench to bedside.
Deep brain stimulation or DBS. It’s been used to control symptoms in Parkinson’s patients, and people with essential tremor.
Now, researchers at UT Health San Antonio are testing DBS on Alzheimer’s patients by implanting wires and stimulating the fibers of the fornix, the part of the brain responsible for memory.
“By increasing the flow of information, in that track, we might improve the ability of a person to retain new information.” Explains Gabriel de Erausquin, MD, PhD, Neurologist, Psychiatrist at UT Health San Antonio.
Scientists are also studying a new therapy involving the whole exchange of blood. It may decrease amyloid plaques in the brain, which are believed to have a role in the development of Alzheimer’s. The researchers gave repeated blood transfusions to specially bred mice and found their amyloid plaques decreased anywhere from 40 to 80 percent.
The shared scientific goal? Bringing basic science to human clinical trial.
Doctor Erausquin says, “If we can prove efficacy for this, that doesn’t have any effective treatments now, it really will be a massive improvement in our toolbox to treat the disease.”
A disease that kills more Americans every year than breast and prostate cancer combined.
UT Health San Antonio and University Health are approved to do DBS implants in 12 patients with early Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers are studying this method as a way to halt progression of the disease – not to reverse any memory loss. Researchers also studying blood transfusions say this may be an option that eventually allows patients to be treated through their circulatory systems, instead of sending drugs into the brain.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.
ALZHEIMER’S TREATMENTS ON THE HORIZON
BACKGROUND: Alzheimer’s is a progressive neurological condition that makes the brain shrink causing brain cells to die. The disease causes decline in thinking and behavioral skills that allow to us function normally in society. 5.8 million adults over age 65 in America suffer from Alzheimer’s. The biggest early symptom is forgetting recent conversations and experiences. As symptoms increase and conditions become worse, severe memory loss takes place and most suffer loss of ability to perform any daily task. There are currently existing medications that can briefly stall symptoms and often allow patients to preserve daily operations for an extended period. There is, however, currently no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease. Treatment of Alzheimer’s disease is difficult because of trouble transporting therapeutic agents across the blood-brain barrier. In the most severe stages of the disease brain function is lost, all memory of identity is often lost, and the infection spreads, causing death.
THE STUDY: Professor Claudio Soto from The Department of Neurology with McGovern Medical School led a team of researchers to perform series of whole blood exchange treatments in effort to restore blood from mice displaying Alzheimer’s disease proteins with healthy blood from mice with the same genetic profiles. They found that manipulating coursing elements in Alzheimer’s could be the answer to finding a cure. The team took several blood transfusions and found that evolution of cerebral amyloid plaques from the mice being tested was reduced by 40 to 80 percent. The reduction also proved to show spatial memory performance in older mice, lowering growing levels of plaque over time.
NEW REGULATIONS: According to the Mayo Clinic, the future of Alzheimer’s Disease treatments include a variety of medications alike to the treatments for many cancers or HIV. New treatments being developed aim at microscopic clumps of beta-amyloid (plaques.) These are a defining sign of Alzheimer’s Disease. The approach to targeting these will be through recruiting out immune systems, stopping destruction, and blocking production. In Summer of 2021, the Food and Drug administration approved aducanumab as a potential treatment in some cases. It targets and removes amyloid plaques in the brain. Saracatinbi is being tested to prevent destruction in Alzheimer’s. The drug turned off proteins that made synapses work again when tested in mice. Another drug studied to possibly treat Alzheimer’s called lecanemab, has also shown hope in treating future patients. A phase 3 clinical trial discovered that the medicine used delayed cognitive decline in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s by 27 percent. Human trials are afoot in many of these cases and researchers believe effective treatments will arise as many drugs go into trial in 2023.
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