A small trial conducted with people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease has offered tremendous promise to those suffering from memory loss and cognitive impairment. According to the researchers, memory loss, the primary symptom of the dreaded neurodegenerative disease, was effectively reversed to such an extent, patients could be seen going from “abnormal to normal” and stayed mentally healthy for a long time.
Researchers have successfully reversed memory loss in patients suffering from early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. The small trial, though it involved just 10 patients, managed to improve brain function and retain the same for a period of two years, allowing some of the participants to return to work, a task which was virtually impossible earlier.
The study, published in the journal Aging, outlines a highly personalized 36-point program that was proven to be highly effective in treating the otherwise incurable and steadily deteriorating condition, said Dr. Dale Bredesen, a professor at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and a professor at the Easton Laboratories for Neurodegenerative Disease Research at UCLA.
“Patients who had had to discontinue work [due to their condition] were able to return to work, and those struggling at work were able to improve their performance. Lives have been dramatically impacted. I’m enthusiastic about that and continue to evolve the protocol.”
“The magnitude of improvement in these 10 patients is unprecedented, providing additional objective evidence that this programmatic approach to cognitive decline is highly effective.”
Bredesen and colleagues showed how 10 patients who were experiencing age-related memory decline showed substantial brain scan improvements, reported CBS News. The researchers are calling the 36-point program MEND, which stands for Metabolic Enhancement for Neurodegeneration.
The program is personalized for each individual patient suffering from varying degrees of the Alzheimer’s disease. It involves a personalized diet regime, combined with specific exercises, brain simulation, and sleep improvement techniques. The program also asks patients to take tailored medication and vitamins. The specific protocols have to strictly followed for period ranging anywhere between five and 24 months. Attempting to explain the program simplistically during its initial stages of experimentation about two years ago, Bredesen had said:
“Imagine having a roof with 36 holes in it, and your drug patched one hole very well – the drug may have worked, a single ‘hole’ may have been fixed, but you still have 35 other leaks, and so the underlying process may not be affected much. We think addressing multiple targets within the molecular network may be additive, or even synergistic, and that such a combinatorial approach may enhance drug candidate performance, as well.”
After the program, all the patients showed remarkable improvements in the area of the brain associated with memory function, noted Bredesen:
“All of these patients had either well-defined mild cognitive impairment, subjective cognitive impairment, or had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease before beginning the program. Follow up testing showed some of the patients going from abnormal to normal.”
Essentially, the 36-point program aimed at improving brain matter. For example, MRI scans of a patient suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, prior to treatment, showed hippocampal volume at just 17 percent for his age range. After 10 months, the hippocampal volume increased to 75 percent. In other words, the area in the brain critical for learning and memory, which usually shrinks in Alzheimer’s patients, grew healthily, if not completely.
The researchers insist this is the first study to objectively show that memory loss in patients can be reversed, and improvement sustained, reported Science Daily. While the researchers do not specify exactly how their methodology works to reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, they did indicate that all the patients in the trial carried at least one copy of the ApoE4 gene. This gene is involved in around 65 percent of all Alzheimer’s cases. Five of the patients had two copies of the gene placing them at an extremely high risk of developing the condition, reported Medical News Today.
The program may be highly tailored to each individual Alzheimer’s patient, but all of them reported regaining the ability to recognize faces, speaking different languages with ease, and remembering their schedules, which needless to say, is nothing short of a medical breakthrough.
[Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images]