Scientists use helmet therapy to treat Alzheimer's

Posted Jan 25, 2008 by Chris V. Thangham
Researchers from England have developed a special helmet which can be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. It delivers infrared beams which stimulate the growth of brain cells.
Inside Alzheimer s.
Inside Alzheimer's.
Photo by Kaz Ehara
Researchers at the University of Sunderland in England have come up with a novel method for Alzheimer’s treatment. The other treatments available for Alzheimer’s delays the progression of the disease but doesn’t reverse memory loss, whereas this new method does accomplish that difficult task.
The experimental helmet is currently being tested in England" it delivers low levels of infrared light at the brain area, stimulating the growth of brain cells that were degraded by Alzheimer’s.
The infrared therapy was originally developed to treat cold sores. But when they tested it further they found it stimulated growth of cells and may have applications in other conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
The researchers have tested this in mice and the rodents have showed marked learning ability.
Dr Gordon Dougal, a GP and director of Virulite, a medical research company based in County Durham that is testing this helmet therapy, said to the BBC:
In tests in people with dementia using infrared lasers, eight out of nine people showed some improvementSince prolonged exposure to infra-red might have its own side effects, Dr. Dougal developed this helmet that will deliver low levels of infrared and for a shorter period less than 10 minutes a day. This procedure seemed to be effective to treat Alzheimer’s.
They plan to extend this experiment on humans and want to see whether the results found in mice can be replicated in humans.
Dr Dougal said as cells age they lose the ability to repair and regenerate themselves, which in the brain leads to loss of memory.
With helmet therapy they can not only stop the rate of decay but also regenerate the cells and improve the memory.
The Alzheimer's Society said it was a potentially interesting technique:
"A treatment that reverses the effects of dementia rather than just temporarily halting its symptoms could change the lives of the hundreds of thousands of people who live with this devastating condition…We look forward to further research to determine whether it could help improve cognition in humans."
This technique seems to be simple and non-invasive, so I hope it does the same job on humans as it did on the mice. Many treatments are being developed to combat Alzheimer’s but there is no magical cure for it yet, but with diligent researchers like Dougal, hopefully they will be able to deliver a great solution soon.