Very tiny doses of lithium may help treat Alzheimer’s disease

In a new study, researchers found that very low doses of a certain formulation of lithium may help stop symptoms of advanced Alzheimer’s disease and recover lost cognitive abilities.

The lithium in the study was in a formulation that facilitates passage to the brain.

The research was conducted by a team at McGill University.

The value of lithium therapy for treating Alzheimer’s disease remains controversial in scientific studies.

This is because the information available until now has come from many different approaches, conditions, formulations, timing, and dosages of treatment. That makes the results difficult to compare.

In addition, continued treatment with high doses of lithium carries a number of serious adverse effects, which makes that approach impracticable for long-term treatments, especially in the elderly.

Previously, the team examined the conventional lithium formulation and initially gave rats a dosage similar to that used in clinical practice for mood disorders.

The results of the initial tentative studies with conventional lithium formulations and dosage were disappointing, however, as the rats rapidly displayed a number of adverse effects.

That interrupted that approach, but it began again when an encapsulated formulation of lithium showed some beneficial effects in a different study involving a mouse model of Huntington disease.

The researchers then applied the new lithium formulation to a rat that develops features of human Alzheimer’s disease and saw positive results.

In the new study, the researchers set out to apply the same lithium formulation at later stages of the disease to their transgenic rat modeling neuropathological aspects of Alzheimer’s disease.

They found that beneficial outcomes in diminishing pathology and improving cognition are achievable at more advanced stages, akin to late preclinical stages of the disease, when amyloid plaques are already present in the brain and when cognition starts to decline.

The team says it is very likely that treatment with microdoses of encapsulated lithium could have tangible beneficial effects at the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

The team plans to test combination therapies using this lithium formulation in concert with other interesting drug candidates.

They will also launch initial clinical trials of this formulation with populations with detectable preclinical Alzheimer’s pathology or with populations genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s, such as adult individuals with Down syndrome.

The lead author of the study is Claudio Cuello of McGill University.

The study is published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

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