The term “breakthrough” tends to be used loosely in the medical field, but a team of researchers at the University of Queensland might have a concrete breakthrough in curing Alzheimer’s Disease.
Alzheimer’s Disease affects roughly 50 million people worldwide and your chances of getting the disease increase with age. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, at the age of 65 Alzheimer’s Disease can affect 1 in 14 people. Over the age of 80, that rises to 1 in 6.
According to medical experts, Alzheimer’s Disease has two causes. The first is a buildup of proteins called beta-amyloid, which hampers cell-to-cell communication, damaging and destroying brain cells in a few ways.
Another cause involves a protein called Tau. Tau proteins help in the transport of nutrients and other essentials throughout the brain system. Over time, Tau proteins can tangle up inside the brain cells, causing failure within the transport system and resulting in the destruction of brain cells.
According to reports published in Science Translation Medicine, using a non-drug treatment, the team was able to use a non-invasive ultrasound, called a focus therapeutic ultrasound, to open up the blood brain barrier (a layer to protect the brain from bacteria) and was able to activate the Microglial cells. Functioning as waste removal cells, the Microglial cells were then able to perform their functions to clear out the beta-amyloid clumps that were responsible for severe Alzheimer’s Disease.
Although the medical technique was performed on mice, very positive results were shown. Reports of a FULL recovery of memory function were documented in 75% of tested mice, with no damage recorded to the surrounding brain tissue. The mice were recorded to have shown vast improvements in memory performance.
To date, there have been no vaccines or preventive measures to stop Alzheimer’s Disease, but these results have been very promising for the team at the University of Queensland. With this new breakthrough, a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease may very well be on the horizon.