A 10-participants study showed that broad-based treatments plus personalized therapy might counteract memory loss in Alzheimer patients.

Researchers from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Easton Laboratories for Neurodegenerative Disease Research used quantitative MRI, neuropsychological testing and a 36-point therapeutic personalized program to examine patients with degenerative brain conditions.

Alzheimer’s symptoms are challenging for scientists. Although the numerous tests researchers have conducted, they could not find symptoms related to the disease, except for memory loss. During this trial, researchers have studied 36 different variables they consider may lead to the appearance of Alzheimer’s. The variables included exercise, diet, medications, sleep habits, brain stimulation, among others.

In the course of the program, the patients had recommendations based exclusively on their condition and without any generalization of the subjects between five and 24 months. Image Credit: Laboratory Equipment
In the course of the program, the patients had recommendations based exclusively on their condition and without any generalization of the subjects between five and 24 months. Image Credit: Laboratory Equipment

During a period of 5 to 24 months, scientist evaluated the way the variables might have to affect the brain activity on each subject. The time varied from one patient to another. Among the 10 participants, different brain conditions required, depending on the cases, more or less evaluation.

 “All of these patients had either well-defined mild cognitive impairment (MCI), subjective cognitive impairment (SCI) or had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease before beginning the program,” Dale Bredesen, MD, a professor at the Buck Institute and professor at the Easton Laboratories for Neurodegenerative Disease Research at UCLA, said in a statement.

Researchers found out that all patients showed significant improvements in memory and cognitive abilities. Indeed, among participants, there were some who were already retired or were considering retirement because of low performance on tasks. After noting definite improvements on their brain abilities, some of them went back to work.

According to Bredesen, the study showed a remarkable rate of success. However, it needs to be conducted in a significant number of patients from different locations.

“The magnitude of improvement in these ten patients is unprecedented, providing additional objective evidence that this programmatic approach to cognitive decline is highly effective. “Even though we see the far-reaching implications of this success, we also realize that this is a slight study that needs to be replicated in larger numbers at various sites,” Bredesen said.

Pioneer research in memory loss reversal

Even if several types of research are working on Alzheimer issues, this is the first study where it has been scientifically proved that memory loss can be reversed.

This small trial is not just showing that there are easier ways to face Alzheimer condition, but it is also bringing to light a different method for the detection of the brain disease. Scientists say that old device to tackle Alzheimer’s were not enough to improve patient’s quality of life.

With what they have found, researchers encourage people to be aware of APOE4 (genetic risk to contract Alzheimer) genetic status. If the disease is detected in time, there are techniques and methods modern medicine have guaranteed as proper solutions to Alzheimer patients.

A picture representing an artists' take on dementia and alzheimer disease, as the memory starts fading away like missing pieces of a puzzle. Image Credit: DocAdvise
A picture is representing an artists’ take on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, as the memory starts fading away like missing pieces of a puzzle. Image Credit: DocAdvise

Three striking cases

During the study, three striking cases called researchers’ attention. There was a 66-year-old participant whose neuropsychological testing presented high levels of compatibility with a diagnosis of MCI (a brain condition characterized by minor problems with the health and mental abilities). Also, this patient Positron Emission Tomography results showed low glucose utilization, what was a sign of Alzheimer. The hippocampal volume was only at the 17th percentile, according to MRI’s scans.

After a ten-month treatment, the patient was submitted to new MRI screening and his hippocampal volume increased to 75th percentile (12 percent increase), a dramatic rise as per researchers’ report.

There was another remarkable case of a 69-year-old entrepreneur who was about to get his retirement. This participant had gone through the progressive loss of his memory during last 11 years.

Results for the first six months showed that the subject presented an improvement in his memory. He continued as the participant of the study and after 22 months, he returned for a quantitative neuropsychological testing. Researchers found out significant improvements in his mental abilities, including an 84th percentile rise in his long-term memory.

The third striking case reported by the scientists was linked to facial recognition and Dysnomia. The 49-year old woman had some difficulties retrieving words, recalling foreign languages she had learned, and distinguishing faces. She was diagnosed in the early stages of cognitive decline, so, she participated in the trial after undergoing quantitative neuropsychological testing.

Several months after, she showed definite improvements in vocabulary recalling, reading, mental clarity, scientific assessment, and facial recognition. Researchers also reported that after nine months in the programs, the lady presented no longer evidence of cognitive decline.

65 percent of US Alzheimer cases involves APOE4 (primary genetic risk factor to develop Alzheimer). Former medical techniques avoided testing for APOE because it was thought that even if discovered, there was nothing to do to counteract it.

Nowadays, researchers state that the sooner the better. They encourage people to determine their APOE4 genetic status to go on prevention.

Source: Buck Institute