Scientists believe Alzheimer's patients could improve their memory by unblocking the blood vessels in the brain.
It is known that Alzheimer's disease reduces blood flow to the brain and research has found that this could be due to white blood cells sticking to the inside of blood vessels.
And, in a study on mice, brain memory and performance improved rapidly when scientists eliminated these blockages.
According to experts, it could be a "game change" if the same mechanism is applied to the millions of people suffering from the disease worldwide.
Scientists hope that in the study of a model with mice can improve the memory of Alzheimer's patients by unblocking the blood vessels of the brain.
The researchers came across the finding by accident, when Nozomi Nishimura, an badociate professor at the Meinig School at Cornell University, was trying to place clots in the blood vessels of the brains of Alzheimer's mice to see their effect.
"It turns out that … the blocks we were trying to induce were already there," he said.
"In some way the research changed, this is a phenomenon that was already happening."
Professor Nishimura worked with Professor Chris Schaffer over the next decade to find that only two percent of the brain capillaries had these blocks or "blocks."
But the cumulative effect of that small amount of stoppages was an overall decrease of about 20 percent in cerebral blood flow, due to the deceleration of the vessels downstream by capillaries that stagnated.
Recent studies suggest that deficits in cerebral blood flow are one of the first detectable symptoms of dementia, suggesting that this could also be useful for diagnosis.
To test his theory that white blood cells were stuck inside the capillaries, the smallest blood vessels in the brain, the team "unblocked" the vessels.
They gave an antibody to mice with Alzheimer's that interfered with the adhesion of white blood cells to the capillary walls.
WHAT IS ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE?
AThe disease of Lzheimer is a progressive and degenerative disease of the brain, in which the accumulation of abnormal proteins causes the nerve cells to die.
This interrupts the transmitters that carry messages and causes the brain to contract.
More than 5 million people suffer from the disease in the United States. UU., Where is the sixth cause of death.
As brain cells die, the functions they provide are lost.
That includes memory, orientation and the ability to think and reason.
The progress of the disease is slow and gradual.
On average, patients live five to seven years after diagnosis, but some can live for ten to 15 years.
- Loss of short-term memory.
- Behavior changes
- Humor changes
- Difficulty handling money or making a phone call.
- Severe memory loss, forgetting close relatives, familiar objects or places
- Being anxious and frustrated by the inability to make sense of the world, leading to aggressive behavior
- Eventually you will lose the ability to walk.
- You may have trouble eating
- Most will eventually need 24-hour care.
Source: Alzheimer's Association
This increased blood flow to the brain, said the findings, published in Nature Neuroscience.
This improved memory function in a few hours, even in older mice with more advanced stages of Alzheimer's disease.
Although it worked in mice, the team has yet to find out if it could work with humans.
An antibody could not be used in humans, and interfering with the adhesion of white blood cells would affect the immune system of an individual.
"What we have done is to identify the cellular mechanism that causes the reduction of cerebral blood flow in models of Alzheimer's disease, which are neutrophils. [white blood cells] getting into the capillaries, "said Professor Schaffer.
& # 39; We have shown that when we block the cellular mechanism [that causes the stalls], we obtain an improved blood flow, and badociated with that improved blood flow is the immediate restoration of the cognitive performance of spatial and working memory tasks.
"Now that we know the cellular mechanism, it's a much narrower path to identify the drug or the therapeutic approach to treat it."
Approximately 20 medications, many of them already approved by the FDA for human use, have been identified as potential in the treatment of dementia.
However, some of them were designed to be taken in high doses for short periods of time to treat sepsis, or immediately after a heart attack or stroke.
Although they are not ideal for long-term use, Professor Schaffer said they are still testing these drugs in mice with Alzheimer's now.
Professor Schaffer said he is "super-optimistic" that if the same mechanism of capillary blockage is at stake in humans than in mice, this line of research "could be a complete change for people with Alzheimer's disease" .
It is believed that Alzheimer's disease is caused by the abnormal accumulation of proteins in and around brain cells.
Research has shown that many people with Alzheimer's also have damage to the blood vessels in the brain, which leads to the belief that this damage to the blood vessels can affect the progression of the disease in its early stages.
Research has found that a reduction in blood flow prevents brain cells from receiving the oxygen and nutrients they need, possibly harming memory even more.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia, affecting 62% of the 850,000 people diagnosed in the United Kingdom.