Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, but it is not easily treatable.
In a study from Charité—Universitätsmedizin Berlin and elsewhere, scientists found one potential therapy is deep brain stimulation delivered by a kind of pacemaker.
They found that stimulating a specific network in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients reduces their symptoms.
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a form of therapy that is already approved in Germany for treating neurological movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and dystonia, and neuropsychiatric diseases such as obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Very thin electrodes are implanted in the patient’s brain and constantly deliver mild electrical pulses to a specific region.
The electrodes remain in the brain permanently and are connected via wires that run under the skin to a pacemaker-like device implanted in the chest area.
The device is used to adjust the strength and frequency of the electrical stimulation.
In the study, the team implanted electrodes in the brain in participants with mild Alzheimer’s disease.
They used imaging data to determine the exact position of the electrodes in the patients that profited from the procedure.
Further clinical studies are needed before DBS can be approved and used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. The present results are an important next step in the process.
The team says if their data make it possible to place electrodes more precisely in neurosurgical studies trialing DBS in Alzheimer’s patients, that would be fantastic.
People need an effective therapy that alleviates the symptoms of this disease—and DBS is very promising.
Going forward, the team will conduct further studies to investigate and define other neural networks in the brain that could be useful in treating dementia.
Their work will include examining areas of brain lesions and identifying target regions for both DBS and other methods of neurostimulation.
If you care about brain health, please read studies about how the Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and Strawberries could help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about antioxidants that could help reduce dementia risk, and Coconut oil could help improve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s disease.
The study was conducted by Prof. Andreas Horn et al and published in Nature Communications.
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