New therapy ‘can reverse Alzheimer’s memory loss’

Scientists found they could repair some of the damage caused by Alzheimer's by treating patients with a naturally occurring protein in the body.

Written by Agencies | London | Published:February 9, 2009 2:45 pm

Scientists have developed a new therapy which they claim can prevent and even reverse memory loss in Alzheimer’s patients.

An international team has found that it could repair some of the damage caused by the disease by treating patients with a naturally occurring protein in the body,called brain-derived neurotrophic factor.

Team leader Mark Tuszynski from California University said: “The effects of BDNF were potent. When we administered BDNF to memory circuits in the brain,we directly stimulated their activity and prevented cell death from the disease.

“We have shown that BDNF targets the cells themselves,preventing their death,stimulating their function,improving learning and memory. BDNF treatment can potentially provide long-lasting protection by slowing,or even stopping disease progression in the cortical regions that receive treatment.” The scientists came to the conclusion after carrying out experiments on laboratory mice bred to have the disease – they found BDNF treatment can slow or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s in the animals.

And,compared to animals not treated with the protein they had significant improvement in their memory and learning skills,the findings,published in the latest edition of the ‘Nature Medicine’ journal,revealed.

Experts have welcomed the research and believe that it could be developed into a new approach to treating the disease for which there is no known cure.

“This initial research is interesting as it seems to show that another protein,BDNF,may protect and restore memory. This research offers us insight into the way in which Alzheimer’s progresses and alternative avenues of research,” ‘The Daily Telegraph’ quoted Neil Hunt of Alzheimer’s Society as saying.

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