Symptoms of Dementia Reversed in Mice, Human Trials Underway
A seemingly unexpected breakthrough, one study that reversed symptoms of dementia in mice is now onto human trials in Queensland due to $10 million in federal funding.
Researchers have found a way to fully restore function in mice brains. They found they can blast away this “toxic plague” by using micro-bubbles and ultrasound equipment.
The $10 million in federal funding will allow these methods to be tested on human patients.
Risk Factors of Dementia
Heredity can play a role in causing certain forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Generally, there are many other factors that are involved.
Dementia isn’t caused by a person’s behaviors or actions — most dementia develops from a result of a biological cause or physical event in the body. This is what makes it difficult to predict who will and will not develop dementia.
There are some risk factors that can increase the chance a person will develop dementia, with the biggest factor being age.
Individuals who are 65 years of age or older have the greatest risk.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, once a person reaches 65, the risk for developing Alzheimer’s is doubled every five years. Since heredity can play a part, it’s important to take a look at your family history of dementia… but don’t count out environmental factors that could play a role.
Mild Cognitive Impairment is also a known risk factor for developing dementia.
What Causes Dementia?
Researchers suggest that dementia is the result of damaged nerve cells in the brain. The way an individual is affected by dementia can vary depending on which part of the brain has the damage.
The damaged brain cells cannot communicate with other cells as they normally would. This can affect the way someone thinks, behaves, feels, remembers, and moves. And it can come on quick.
But what really causes dementia?
There are a few different types of causes — neurodegenerative, cerebrovascular, infection-related, traumatic events, and toxic and metabolic all can cause dementia.
Neurodegenerative causes of dementia are the most common biological cause of dementia which often leads to Alzheimer’s disease. This is the process where the nerve cells break down and die. The dying brain cells cause a permanent and progressive decrease in mental and physical function over time.
Cerebrovascular causes of dementia are where there is damage to your blood vessels in your brain. This is often caused by strokes, heart disease, and/or the hardening of blood vessels that supply the brain.
Infection-related causes of dementia can result from an imbalance in the body caused by a toxin, malnutrition, or other metabolic and biological disorders.
Lastly, traumatic causes of dementia can come from serious injuries and concussions to the head.
Decreasing the Risk of Dementia
It’s not possible to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias, but there are some steps you can take to decrease the chance of developing this crippling disease.
Not smoking, getting adequate exercise, stimulating your mind with puzzles and reading, eating a nutritious well-rounded diet, and getting enough vitamin D (sun) all can help reduce your risk of dementia.
This groundbreaking research successfully blasted away this “toxic plaque” on the brain using a non-invasive, non-toxic treatment and an ultrasound.
The Queensland Brain Institute have successfully injected “micro bubbles” into the brains of mice. When used with an ultrasound, the brain function is fully restored.
Professor Jurgen Gotz stated the breakthrough was completely unexpected.
"Cognition was restored. So the mice were perfectly fine afterward, which was a surprise to us, but obviously was extremely encouraging," he said.
Thanks to $10 million in federal funding, this will allow researchers to test the method on up to 10 patients in Brisbane who have been diagnosed with early-onset dementia. Gotz says he believed the method would be most effective if the treatment is started as early as possible.
"Ideally we would treat a patient at the pre-symptomatic stage and that's obviously where more funding is required to be able to achieve that. Inevitably there is a point of no return. So we want to treat as early as possible before all the damage has occurred,” he says.
"There is currently no cure for Alzheimer's disease, or any of the dementias."
In Australia, the number of people living with dementia is expected to increase to 1.1 million by 2056. That is, without a medical breakthrough.
Professor Peter Hoj from the University of Queensland has pushed for urgent action — stating a clinical trial is critical. "This funding will ensure we keep some of the world's brightest minds focused on finding a cure for dementia," Gotz said.
Gotz has been able to show the approach worked in both sheep and mice, so the next step was to try human participants. Professor Gotz mentioned that the long-term goal is to come up with an affordable portable device that could help millions of Alzheimer’s patients worldwide.
Wrapping It Up
I did a little digging around and it seems there are 7.7 million new cases diagnosed every year, with over 47.5 million people living with dementia worldwide.
A major breakthrough like this is something I’ve been waiting for since I found out my mom had Alzheimer’s and dementia.
I know I’m not the only one.