Researchers have long been looking for a workable cure for Alzheimer’s disease, and a recent study claims to have reversed the condition entirely in lab test subjects.
An international research team from the Glasgow University and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology injected mice daily with a protein called IL-33, which led to a full reversal of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s – such as cognitive decline – in a matter of days.
Even though current tests have been limited to rodents, researchers believe it’s possible the same technique could treat the disease in human patients, as well.
Lab mice have been bred to present the same symptoms as those of Alzheimer’s, but the protein injections brought back their prior cognitive abilities within merely a week.
This is not the first time IL-33 is associated with Alzheimer’s; the protein can be found naturally in the body, and has been previously linked to a reduction in the plaque development that causes the devastating disease.
Meanwhile, the findings of a new research piece conducted at Washington University in St. Louis suggest that long before Alzheimer’s is clinically diagnosed, patients may begin to display signs of difficulties with navigation.
In other words, clinical trials showed that their brains’ ability to build, store and access mental maps of their surroundings was somewhat reduced compared to their healthy counterparts.
Denise Head, associate professor of psychological and brain sciences in Arts & Sciences, said that “these findings suggest that navigational tasks designed to assess a cognitive mapping strategy could represent a powerful new tool for detecting the very earliest Alzheimer’s disease-related changes in cognition.”
Researchers have realized that there are some detectable effects of Alzheimer’s on the brain, present prior to the onset of the actual condition; the kinds of symptoms involved in these changes lead to standard clinical diagnoses.
The fact that Alzheimer-related changes occur before a clinical diagnose has prompted the medical and scientific communities to study Alzheimer’s right back to the moment it first manifests, hoping to find a way to slow or halt its progression entirely.
The Washington University study is one of the many to associate navigational problems with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
The damage caused by the accumulation of plaques in the brain’s hippocampus affects long-term memory storage, but the damage to the caudate is believed to contribute to the poor navigational and mapping functions.
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