Few challenges in life are as devastating as an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. If you have a loved one with this disease, you understand the impact it has on their health and lifestyle.
This is why continued research into finding a new Alzheimer’s treatment is so vital. Scientists are doing amazing work, discovering new potential Alzheimer’s treatment options each year.
Let’s take a moment to look at several recent breakthroughs that are having a huge impact on the way doctors are able to treat this terrible disease.
On the Cutting Edge: 7 New Alzheimer’s Treatment Breakthroughs You need to Know About
Is someone you love suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia? If so, you’ll want to know about these 7 new Alzheimer’s treatment breakthroughs.
1. Stuffed Animals with Lifelike Heartbeats
Each year, scientists from a wide range of backgrounds learn new insights into Alzheimer’s. These insights include understanding how the disease affects the mind and body.
One of the most surprising breakthroughs is a discovery made by students at the University of Illinois. The premise of their work is the positive effects of patients who interact with animals. And yet many Alzheimer’s patients no longer have access to animals or can no longer care for them.
This inspired engineering and design students to design stuffed animals with lifelike heartbeats. The results of the project turned out positive, offering patients a source of comfort through these artificial animals.
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2. Passive Immunotherapy
There remains a tremendous need for more effective treatments for Alzheimer’s. And yet the FDA hasn’t approved any new medications for over a decade. This is frustrating for scientists who’ve dedicated their lives to fighting the disease.
Scientists have begun testing new types of therapy.
These include passive immunotherapies, which are antibody solutions that target and remove beta-amyloid protein deposits from the blood and brain. Though there have been significant failures during testing, scientists remain hopeful.
3. Retinal Imaging Technology
Another important developing technology is the use of retinal imaging for diagnosing Alzheimer’s. Scientists use this technology to scan the retina to locate neurotoxic beta-amyloid protein deposits.
In the past, medical professionals used cerebrospinal fluid analysis or PET scans to find these deposits. Unfortunately, both of these methods are costly and invasive, whereas retinal imaging is noninvasive.
Researchers in the U.S. and Australia have conducted clinical trials using this device, which produced several measurable changes in the amyloid pathology in the retina.
4. Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation
Part of what we’ve come to understand about the mind is that memories are typically stored in the brain. They are then remembered through a series of electrical synapses that pass from neuron to neuron.
But if there is a weakening of these synapses, the brain begins to lose its effectiveness at recalling memories.
Scientists at Northwestern University have begun using MRI to locate the memory-related networks in the brain. They can then stimulate them with non-invasive electromagnetic stimulation.
These stimulations have provided scientists with a better understanding of memory improvement. They’ve also produced changes in brain activity in testing participants.
This type of brain stimulation is used like a scalpel to make very specific improvements in memory-related areas of the brain. This is done without having to resort to invasive medical procedures.
5. Human Memory Prosthesis Treatments
Researchers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency have been working on technology to help restore normal memory function in United States military personnel. This research has been ongoing since 2013 and has been successful at producing real-world results in patients.
A project known as RAM, or Restoring Active Memory, has focused on improving episodic memory. This is the ability to remember what you had for dinner last night or where you parked your car.
This type of episodic memory is among the most common types of memory loss in individuals with Alzheimer’s or brain injury.
Researchers working in this program have designed a mathematical model that reproduces healthy firing patterns of memory-related areas of the brain. This is intended to correct the errors caused by disease and trauma.
The results have given scientists reason to feel optimistic. Volunteers in the programs have experienced an average improvement of 37% in episodic memory performance.
6. Symptom Controlling Treatments
Much effort has been made toward disease modification in Alzheimer’s patients. And although this is an important goal, clinicians are still in need of symptom-controlling medications.
Alzheimer’s affects the patient’s memory, language skills, judgment, and general cognition. Therefore scientists are looking to discover medications that will reduce these symptoms.
Aside from medications, a variety of alternative therapies exist.
These include light therapy, acupuncture, transcranial direct current stimulation, and deep brain stimulation. In addition to these forms of treatment, research is being conducted into how special diets can offer hope for improving brain function.
7. Using MicroRNA to Detect Alzheimer’s Sooner
Researches at Indiana University have found that changes in mircoRNA can help detect Alzheimer’s before the patient has begun to show symptoms of neurodegeneration.
The ability to identify these biomarkers at an early stage is very important. It helps to diagnose the disease quickly so that doctors can offer effective treatment.
MicroRNA acts as regulators in the body, increasing or decreasing the number of proteins that get encoded.
In fact, a single mircoRNA can affect the function of literally hundreds of proteins in the body. This has an enormous impact on the speed at which Alzheimer’s develops.
New Alzheimer’s Treatments that are Changing Lives
Every new Alzheimer’s treatment represents a step toward improving life for Alzheimer’s patients. Although it can often seem like progress is slow, scientists are making huge advances that would have seemed impossible a few decades ago.
There’s a lot of work left to accomplish. But the future looks bright. With enough funding and the best minds in the world working on the problem, one day this terrible disease will hopefully be a thing of the past.
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