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Using Deep Brain Stimulation to Treat Alzheimer's

Edited By: Sheldon O'Riley
 Doctors from Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center are currently experimenting with an implanted “pacemaking” device in Alzheimer’s patients in an attempt to help them retain their independence. This device allows the patient to undergo Deep Brain Stimulation therapy.
 
Alzheimer's

This therapy involves implanting electric wires into the patient’s brain and then connecting them to a battery pack implanted in the chest. This pack sends electric currents through the wires to help stimulate the part of the brain that controls the abilities to problem-solve, plan, and use judgement.

This therapy has already been implemented in thousands of patients who have Parkinson’s disease in order to help them overcome their tremors. However, the use of Deep Brain Stimulation to treat Alzheimer’s is still in its experimental stage. While previous studies have focused on stimulating the brain regions that govern memory, this new study moves the focus area.

The Ohio state tests have shown positive results in all three of the patients who took part in the pilot study. In fact, the progression of the disease slowed significantly. By turning back on part of the brain, the two patients could be able to retain their quality of life longer than those who are not undergoing therapy. While it may not be able to cure the disease itself, Deep Brain Stimulation seems to have the potential to provide patients with some welcome, immediate relief.

However, the science behind the therapy’s effectiveness for Alzheimer’s is still developing. Andres Lozano from the University of Toronto is also undertaking studies to test how successful the therapy is for people with Alzheimer’s. In an interview, Lozano stressed that the treatment is not meant to cure the disease, and it does not cease cognitive design altogether.

 

Assault on Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer's

Researchers from all over the world are constantly working to better understand Alzheimer’s to fuel future breakthroughs in treatment. To meet this end, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates announced a $100 million initiative last year to help defeat this debilitating disease.

A promising blood test that is being studied in Japan could increase the time doctors have to treat the disease by up to thirty years. Not only could early detection let doctors form better treatment plans, but it could also help researchers learn a lot more about how the disease progresses over this period of time, giving greater insight into its development.

Other researchers are currently working on treatments that could potentially delay or prevent the disease from developing. Scientists from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo, are targeting a specific gene variant that increases the risk of developing the disease by a factor of 12.

Furthermore, human trials are also underway for two preventative measures that could also prevent the disease from ever developing. Researchers from the University Of Southern California Keck School Of Medicine are currently testing an oral medication as well as a vaccine that targets the proteins which build up in the brains of disease sufferers.

However, all these procedures are still under investigation. Deep Brain Stimulation therapies could be a welcome addition to treat the symptoms of the disease while researchers work on eradicating it once and for all. Allowing patients to retain greater levels of independence is a great step forward and will buy more families more time as the researchers continue their very important work.

 

Source: futurism
Images: depositphotos

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