Alzheimer's: Dr Chris discusses the early signs of condition
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Alzheimer’s disease is gaining recognition as one of the most pressing medical and social problems in older people, with rates of the condition expected to grow sharply in coming years. Scientific circles have focussed largely on underpinning different risk factors for the condition in a bid to improve preventative measures. To date, only symptomatic treatments exist for the neurodegenerative disease. However, a new therapeutic target for the disease has been unveiled, when clomid does the opposite marking a significant breakthrough in Alzheimer’s treatments.
Researchers from Tel Aviv have identified a new therapy that could improve brain flow and cognitive function.
The Israeli researchers discovered that patients with mild cognitive impairment – a precursor of Alzheimer’s disease – saw significant improvements in their cognitive function following a 90-minute session in a hyperbaric chamber.
The study, published in the journal Ageing, examined six patients aged around 70 who did not have an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, but suffered mild cognitive impairment.
The subjects were placed in a chamber that allowed oxygen to be dissolved into the tissues, mimicking the state of “hypoxia”.
READ MORE: Alzheimer’s disease: Your specific sleeping pattern could determine your risk of decline
This process imitates oxygen shortage, and has been found to have regenerating effects on brain tissue.
The team also observed that the therapy cleared away sticky plaques in the brains of animals.
These plaques, consisting of protein fragments called amyloid, are found scattered between the nerve cells, preventing them from communicating with one another.
This pathology is one of two typically found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, the other featuring fibres consisting of tau proteins which cause tangles in the cells.
The formation of both proteins take place in the memory centres of the brain – two small curved structures on either side of the head called the hippocampi.
The researchers believe the treatment works by changing the structure of vessels that allow for better blood flow to the affected areas of the brain.
Professor Uri Ashery, of the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, said: “We have discovered for the time that hyperbaric oxygen therapy induces degradation and clearance of amyloid plaques, and the appearance of newly formed plaques.
“Elderly patients suffering from significant memory loss at baseline revealed an increase in brain blood flow and improvement in cognitive performance, demonstrating hyperbaric oxygen therapy’s potency to reverse core elements responsible for the development of Alzheimer’s disease.”
It has long been believed that amyloid proteins are the root cause of Alzheimer’s disease.
Experimental therapies, however, that have targeted the protein have failed to reverse or slow the condition’s progression.
Autopsies have further revealed that the proteins in some people show no signs of dementia, fuelling suspicions that the protein build-up could be a side effect of Alzheimer’s, as opposed to the root cause.
Doctor Susan Kohlas, the director of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Many of the Alzheimer’s treatments that are currently being tested are drugs that target the hallmark disease proteins directly, but it’s important we maintain a broad spectrum of potential approaches.
“Larger scale clinical trials with many more people are needed to ascertain whether this treatment is effective, particularly when measuring longer term benefits to memory and thinking.
“We know the diseases that cause dementia begin in the brain many years before symptoms like memory loss show and it’s likely for treatments to be effective at slowing down the diseases that cause dementia, they need to be given earlier rather than later.”
The most overt and significant cognitive deficits to date seem to be impairment of episodic memory – the ability to recall events specific to a time and place.
As the pathology spreads to regions beyond the hippocampus, this gives rise to deficits in attention and execution functions.
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