There are currently no effective therapies for Alzheimer disease. As lifespan increase and our population ages, Alzheimer becomes a health problem of immense proportions. One of three adults in the Unites States will die from Alzheimer or age related dementia, touching almost every one, patient or caregiver.
The Unites States counts 9,4 million patients, Europe 10,5 Million patients, Asia almost 23 Million patients! Alzheimer and age related dementia are already the greatest cost for the economy, greater than cancer and heart disease.
Using LED lights flickering at a specific frequency, MIT researchers have shown that they can substantially reduce the beta amyloid plaques seen in Alzheimer’s disease, in the visual cortex of mice.
This treatment appears to work by inducing brain waves known as gamma oscillations, which the researchers discovered help the brain suppress beta amyloid production and invigorate cells responsible for destroying the plaques.
Further research will be needed to determine if a similar approach could help Alzheimer’s patients, says Li-Huei Tsai, the Picower Professor of Neuroscience, director of MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, and senior author of the study, which appears in the Dec. 7 online edition of Nature.
“It’s a big ‘if,’ because so many things have been shown to work in mice, only to fail in humans,” Tsai says. “But if humans behave similarly to mice in response to this treatment, I would say the potential is just enormous, because it’s so noninvasive, and it’s so accessible.”
This is remarkable and hopeful news from Li-Huei Tsai, the Picower Professor of Neuroscience, director of MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, and senior author of the study, which appeared in the Dec. 7 online edition of Nature.
RadioLab writes about the study, “Today, a startling new discovery: prodding the brain with light, a group of scientists got an unexpected surprise — they were able to turn back on a part of the brain that had been shut down by Alzheimer’s disease. This new science is not a cure, and is far from a treatment, but it’s a finding so … simple, you won’t be able to shake it.”