New Alzheimer’s Treatment Discovery
A new study carried out by scientists at the University of Southampton has suggested a new Alzheimer’s treatment has been discovered by blocking a receptor responsible for the production of immune cells in the brain, memory problems in Alzheimer’s disease could be reduced. It is hoped that this exciting discovery may lead to a new treatment for the currently untreatable disease.
In addition to causing memory problems, Alzheimer’s disease causes changes in behaviour and understanding, meaning that many sufferers have to be cared for in private care homes. Those able to remain in their own homes can benefit from regular admissions to respite care homes so that their usual carers are able to have some respite from their responsibilities.
Until recently, most of the drugs used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease have been aimed at the amyloid plaques which are present in the brains of people with the disease, but no new dementia drugs have been introduced in more than ten years.
Although it was originally thought that the brain’s immune response was disturbed in Alzheimer’s disease, the new study contradicts this, demonstrating that brain inflammation can cause more rapid development of dementia. No significant reduction in the presence of amyloid plaques has been observed in the new research.
The New Breakthrough
The research, which was funded jointly by Alzheimer’s Research UK and the Medical Research Council, suggests that targeting brain inflammation that has resulted from an increase in microglia or immune cells could prevent the disease from progressing. Using tissue samples from the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease and from healthy brains of people of the same age, researchers found that there were more microglia immune cells in the brains of people with the disease.
Scientists also found that the severity of the disease correlated with the amount of activity in the molecules that regulated the number of microglia. The same immune cells were also studied in mice, and it was shown that treating mice to block the receptor that regulates microglia caused them to demonstrate fewer behavioural and memory problems than untreated mice.
It is hoped that a similar treatment to block these receptors in people with Alzheimer’s disease will be able to be tested within the next three years, and that as many as half a million people in the UK with the disease could be helped.
The number of residents in care homes in West Sussex, Hampshire and neighbouring southern counties has increased over the past ten years, but it may be possible for more people with Alzheimer’s disease to remain in their own homes for longer if the new treatment succeeds in halting the progress of the disease.
Balcombe Care Homes hope that a new drug for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease will be ready to be trialled in around three years’ time.