No Surgery May Treat Alzheimer’s Trails Found

No Surgery May Treat Alzheimer's Trails Found

A new type of deep brain stimulation has been created by researchers at the UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI). The innovative, non-surgical technique could provide an alternate therapy option for brain illnesses such as Alzheimer’s.

For the first time, the intriguing new technology was successfully tested on 20 healthy individuals.

Dr. Nir Grossman and Dr. Ines Violante, as well as the team at UK DRI at Imperial College London and the University of Surrey, conducted the trial.

Interference in time

Temporal interference (TI) works by securely supplying varying frequencies of electrical field through electrodes placed on the scalp and various areas of the head.

The overlapping electrical fields allow electrical stimulation to be directed at a deep part of the brain known as the hippocampus without impacting the surrounding areas.

Until recently, this treatment necessitated brain surgery.

Enhanced memory function

The study, which was supported by the UK DRI, was published today in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

It demonstrated that the technique might activate the hippocampus and improve memory performance in healthy persons.

Scientists are now hopeful that it will soon be used to relieve symptoms of memory loss in persons with Alzheimer’s disease, and they have began testing the approach in people with early Alzheimer’s.

Stimulating deep brain regions

The scientists at Imperial College London first disclosed the technology in 2017 and demonstrated its feasibility in mice.

For the first time, the current study demonstrates that TI is efficient at stimulating deep parts of the human brain.

This has vast uses and will enable scientists to activate diverse deep brain regions for the first time to determine their functional roles, expediting the discovery of new treatment targets.

TI electric field measurement

The researchers employed post-mortem brain scans to validate that the TI electric fields can be remotely focussed in the hippocampus in the latest study. They next used TI stimulation on healthy volunteers while they memorized pairings of faces and names, a process that is strongly reliant on the hippocampus.

They demonstrated that TI stimulation selectively impacted hippocampus activity induced by the memory challenge using an imaging technique known as functional magnetic resonance imaging.

Finally, the researchers repeated the process for 30 minutes to demonstrate that the stimulation improves memory accuracy.

Dr. Nir Grossman, Group Leader at the UK DRI at Imperial College London, who led the study, stated:

Until now, if we wanted to electrically stimulate areas deep within the brain, we had to physically insert electrodes into the brain, which was risky for the patient and could lead to consequences.

We have demonstrated for the first time, using our novel technology, that it is possible to remotely activate specific locations deep within the human brain without requiring surgery.

This opens up a completely new therapy option for brain illnesses like Alzheimer’s that damage deep brain structures.

We expect that by dramatically lowering the cost and danger, it will assist to increase the availability of deep brain stimulation therapy.

We are currently investigating if repeated stimulation treatment over a number of days could aid persons in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

We expect that this will restore normal brain activity in the damaged areas, potentially alleviating symptoms of memory loss.

The second study

The study was published at the same time as a second study led by researchers at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, which independently verified the technology.

The EPFL study employed TI technology to activate a distinct deep brain area called the striatum and improve motor memory function in healthy subjects.

Following that, researchers at Imperial College London’s UK DRI are testing the technique on persons in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Participants in the clinical trial undergo many sessions of non-invasive TI brain stimulation.

This study will see if it can restore activity in afflicted parts of the brain and improve symptoms of memory loss.

Clinical application possibilities

Dr. Ines Violante, Senior Lecturer in Psychological Neuroscience at the University of Surrey, is the study’s first author.

The ability to selectively target deep brain areas of the brain using a non-invasive approach is very exciting as it provides a tool to investigate how the human brain operates and opens possibilities for clinical applications.

The combination of non-invasive imaging and brain stimulation will help us unravel the processes that support our cognitive functions, such as memory and learning.

Knowledge of these processes and how they can be altered is essential to develop better individualised strategies to treat or delay the onset of diseases.

Procedure is simple and straightforward

One of the healthy volunteers in the trial was Luca De Freitas, 24. He stated:

“The procedure was easy and straightforward, I felt very calm, and it wasn’t at all painful.

The research team were really efficient and kind, and made sure to explain the whole process behind the study thoroughly.

It helped to understand exactly why the team were conducting the study, and the process by which the study was conducted was very well organised.

I work for a company which produces diagnostics for dementia, so I was really keen to take part in the study to help advance research in this area.”

Innovative treatment option

Dr Joanna Latimer, Head of Neuroscience and Mental Health at the Medical Research Council (MRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, added:

“Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating condition for which effective treatments are very much needed.

Memory impairment is a key feature of the disease and these initial results present an innovative treatment option for people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

The results from the next stage of this highly promising treatment cannot come fast enough, and reaffirm the importance of the commitment the MRC has made to support the UK DRI and its role in advancing dementia research.

Source Link

more recommended stories