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Researchers successfully prevent memory deterioration in Alzheimer’s

The scientists found a variety of methods that were effective in preventing abnormal brain activity and subsequent cognitive impairment.

A volunteer attends to Alzheimer's patients at a center in Dax, southwestern France
A volunteer attends to Alzheimer's patients at a center in Dax, southwestern France - Copyright AFP/File Jim WATSON
A volunteer attends to Alzheimer's patients at a center in Dax, southwestern France - Copyright AFP/File Jim WATSON

Researchers from Tel Aviv University have discovered a method with the potential for early detection of Alzheimer’s during sleep or anesthesia in the pre-symptomatic stage. This is between 10-20 years before the onset of dementia symptoms.

As early as 10-20 years before the appearance of the familiar symptoms of memory impairment and cognitive decline, physiological changes slowly and gradually occur within the patients’ brains. Notably, there is an accumulation of amyloid-beta deposits and abnormal accumulations of tau protein and a decrease in the volume of the hippocampus.

The scientists found a variety of methods that were effective in preventing abnormal brain activity and subsequent cognitive impairment in in an animal model of Alzheimer’s disease, including Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), which is an established method used in the treatment of Parkinson’s and epilepsy.

The research was based on an earlier discovery when a research team uncovered a pathological brain phenomenon in in an animal model that precedes the first appearance of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms by many years.

Specifically, the researchers discovered a connection between the abnormal activity in the hippocampus and a small nucleus called the nucleus reuniens, which connects the thalamus to the hippocampus (which is responsible for sleep regulation).

It was found that suppression of neuronal activity in a small nucleus in a specific area of the thalamus (which regulates sleep states) caused a decrease in pathological activity in the hippocampus and prevented the deterioration of the memory in Alzheimer’s in an animal model.

Therefore, by using DBS to suppress it was found that the nucleus inhibited the epileptic activity during anesthesia and prevented memory loss after it.

Moreover, DBS treatment during the pre-symptomatic phase prevented memory loss in Alzheimer’s animal model during the symptomatic phase.

The research focused on finding those protective mechanisms which the brain has against the damage from the disease. The researchers hope that their research will speed up the start of clinical trials in humans, leading to progress in the fields of early detection and prevention of the onset of dementia symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease.

The research has been published in the journal Nature Communications. The research is titled “Deep brain stimulation of thalamic nucleus reuniens promotes neuronal and cognitive resilience in an Alzheimer’s disease mouse model.”

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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