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Deep brain stimulation shows promise for Alzheimer's


Deep brain stimulation may help patients with Alzheimer’s disease. A new study suggests that a device that sends continuous electrical impulses to specific “memory” regions of the brain appears to increase neuronal activity. A therapy already used in patients with Parkinson’s disease and depression may offer hope for at least some with AD.

“While our study was designed mainly to establish safety, involved only six people and needs to be replicated on a larger scale, we don’t have another treatment for AD at present that shows such promising effects on brain function,” explained the study’s first author, Gwenn Smith, PhD, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

After one month and then after one year from the time a device was implanted in the brain to emit continuous electrical impulses, Smith and her colleagues performed PET scans to detect changes in brain cells’ metabolism of glucose. They found that patients with mild forms of AD showed sustained increases in glucose metabolism, an indicator of brain activity. The activity was even higher in patients who were also taking medications for fighting the progression of AD.

They found that about 15 to 20 percent showed an increase in glucose metabolism after one year of continuous stimulation. The activity was also centered in areas of the brain associated with memory.

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) requires surgical implantation of a brain pacemaker. The researchers reported few side effects.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Archives of Neurology

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