The brain "pacemaker" may help slow Alzheimer's

    Abdulaziz Sobh

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    The brain "pacemaker" may help slow Alzheimer's

    Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018 - Brain stimulation with a transplantable device may be safe - and possibly useful - for some people with Alzheimer's disease, according to a small experimental study.

    In what researchers describe as "evidence of the concept" of treatment, three Alzheimer's patients have deep brain stimulation (molasses) implanted in the brain - in areas related to skills such as planning, judgment, and problem-solving.

    Over the next 18 months or more, tactics seem safe. "There were signs that it slowed down two low patients," said lead researcher Dr. Douglas Chary, director of cognitive neuroscience at the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University.

    Deep brain stimulation is already used to treat some cases of Parkinson's disease and some other brain disorders.

    Shary said it was too early to say whether it was valuable for people with Alzheimer's disease.

    "This is not ready for the set time." "It is not something that patients can ask the neurologist for."

    Keith Fargo, who directs scientific and awareness programs for the Alzheimer's Association, has agreed.

    Fargo, who did not participate in the study, said it was "too early" for patients or caregivers to look for molasses.

    Instead, he said, these findings suggest that deep brain stimulation is a "reasonable way" to study in large clinical trials.

    The results were published online on January 30 in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

    Stimulating the deep brain involves implanting the electrodes in the brain, then connecting them to the pulse generator placed under the chest skin. Sometimes called a "pacemaker in the brain", it delivers electrical pulses that alter brain activity in specific "circuits".

    Chari said the theory behind an attempt to pinch Alzheimer's patients is similar to the principle of "use or loss": If brain regions can stimulate key to form new links between cells, it may slow down the decline.

    At present, Shar pointed out, drugs for brain chemicals targeted Alzheimer's involved in memory.

    But Alzheimer's disease hinders all types of mental functions - including governance, planning, and decision-making. He added that these issues have a significant impact on the daily lives of patients and their caregivers.

    Therefore, patients in this study received molasses, for at least 18 months, to the brain regions that regulate these mental skills. All three patients were in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease and were on standard medication.

    After the start of molasses, everyone saw a general decline in their memory, solving problems and other skills. But decreased at a slower rate, compared with 96 similar patients whose data were taken from the Alzheimer's Research Database.

    Two molten patients fell at a "positive" rate, according to Shar. Those that actually showed some improvements included.

    This patient was Lafon Moore, 85, of Delaware, Ohio. When she entered the study, she did not prepare any meals. After two years of deep stimulation in the brain, she regained that skill - and was more able to perform some other minor tasks, such as choosing her clothes and organizing trips.

    In a press release from Ohio, her husband Tom Moore said that Alzheimer's disease may progress, but more slowly than expected.

    "The iPhone had Alzheimer's disease longer than anyone I know, and it seems negative, but it's really positive because it shows we're doing something right," Moore said.

    If the molasses ever becomes an option for Alzheimer's, Char said he would not be for everyone.

    It would not be appropriate, for example, for people to be weak or suffering from other serious medical conditions.

    The side effects included in the pilot study were hot flashes, heart palpitations and burning sensation in the skin, which was reversed by adjusting the settings of molasses.

    Char said there is no greater trial in business yet.

    Fargo said, what is needed, is a research that compares the deep stimulation of the brain against a phantom device.

    At a broader level, he pointed out that this study highlights an important point: "Alzheimer's disease is more than just memory loss."

    For caregivers, Fargo said, problems with capabilities such as governance and planning can actually be more challenging. Any new treatments that help address these issues will, therefore, be welcome.

    The Alzheimer's Association said more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, a figure that could rise to 16 million by 2050.