Restoring your memory, or treating a person with Alzheimer’s disease? It sounds unbelievable, but it might just be possible in the near future. According to the research of neurosurgeon Dr. Lozano and his team from the University of Toronto, deep brain stimulation using electrodes might be the next step to cure Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer´s affects the connections between nerve cells which eventually causes a loss of cells and brain tissue and a shortage of the chemicals that help transmit signals around the brain. Symptoms start mildly and get worse over time, damaging the brain, causing memory loss and problems thinking, reasoning, communication and perceiving.
The brain consists of various circuits that regulate functions such as our movement, memory or cognition, and feelings like happiness, sadness, love and hate. Alzheimer’s causes a disturbance in the circuit that controls our memory and cognitive functions and stops the brain from using glucose, where it typically uses 20% of all the glucose in the body.
In answer to this problem, neurosurgeons have come up with a procedure called deep brain stimulation, where electrodes are implanted in specific parts of the brain, to change brain activity, control abnormal impulses or impact cells and chemicals in the brain.
Although findings are not conclusive yet, due to the slow evolution of the condition, initial results show that the brain “re-starts” using glucose and that there was some growth in the hippocampus (the part of the brain that is associated with emotions, learning and memory formation size) in some patients of the study. These important findings are seen as the holy grail in Alzheimer’s research.
Time will tell whether Dr. Lozano’s, and other similar DBS (deep brain stimulation) trials, result in effective treatment for Alzheimer’s, but these might be the first steps to finding that remedy.