New Developments in the Treatment of Alzheimer's

Winter 2005 CSANews Issue 57  |  Posted date : May 25, 2007.Back to list

There has been a recent glimmer of hope in the treatment of Alzheimer's, a debilitating brain disease that affects millions of people worldwide. Scientists at the University of Minnesota now believe that the brains of those with Alzheimer's are not irreversibly damaged. More importantly, and surprisingly, they have found that the disease can be reversed; that is, those with Alzheimer's can regain their memory.

This discovery is the end result of extensive testing on genetically altered mice. In the study, mice were genetically engineered to develop the mutant tau protein, an unhealthy form of natural brain compound. The mice afflicted with Alzheimer's were unable to locate a submerged platform in a water maze. However, once the mutated gene was deactivated, or "switched off," the mice were able re-learn a route to the platform.

Scientists are now looking for ways to deactivate the molecule that causes neurons to malfunction in humans. Although there is much additional testing to be conducted, this particular study has led to a monumental breakthrough in the treatment of Alzheimer's. Says William Thies, vice-president of medical affairs for the Alzheimer's Association, "It at least opens the possibility that people will get better."