The Alzheimer’s reversed breakthrough comes from a joint study that reveals an effective treatment for memory loss at UCLA.
There were six patients who showed signs of Alzheimer’s during the study by the UCLA Mary S. Easton Center and the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. The first patient had two years of progressive memory loss. She was considering quitting her job, which involved analyzing data and writing reports. She was also disoriented while driving, and mixed up the names of her pets.
The second patient kept forgetting once familiar faces at work, forgot his gym locker combination, and had to have his assistants constantly remind him of his work schedule without having her Alzheimer’s reserved.
Patient three’s memory was so bad she used an iPad to record everything, then forgot her password. Her children noticed she commonly lost her train of thought in mid-sentence, and often asked them if they had carried out the tasks that she mistakenly thought she had asked them to do.
Since its first description over 100 years ago, Alzheimer’s disease has been without effective treatment. That may finally be about to change: in the first, small study of a novel, personalized and comprehensive program to reverse memory loss, nine of 10 participants, including the ones above, displayed subjective or objective improvement in their memories beginning within 3-to-6 months after the program’s start.
Of the six patients who had to discontinue working or were struggling with their jobs at the time they joined the study, all were able to return to work or continue working with improved performance. Improvements have been sustained, and as of this writing the longest patient follow-up is two and one-half years from initial treatment. However, one patient, diagnosed with late stage Alzheimer’s, did not improve.
The study is the first to suggest that memory loss in patients may be reversed, and improvement sustained, using a complex, 36-point therapeutic program that involves comprehensive changes in diet, brain stimulation, exercise, optimization of sleep, specific pharmaceuticals and vitamins, and multiple additional steps that affect brain chemistry.
The findings, published in the current online edition of the journal Aging, “are very encouraging. Dales Bredesen, the Augustus Rose Professor of Neurology and Director of the Easton Center at UCLA, a professor at the Buck Institute, and the author of the paper said:
“However, at the current time the results are anecdotal, and therefore a more extensive, controlled clinical trial is warranted … In the past decade alone, hundreds of clinical trials have been conducted for Alzheimer’s at an aggregate cost of over a billion dollars, without success.”
Other chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and HIV, have been improved through the use of combination therapies, Bredesen noted. Yet in the case of memory disorders, comprehensive combination therapies have not been explored. Yet over the past few decades, genetic and biochemical research has revealed an extensive network of molecular interactions involved in AD pathogenesis, which was published before the Alzheimer’s reversed study.
“That suggested that a broader-based therapeutics approach, rather than a single drug that aims at a single target, may be feasible and potentially more effective for the treatment of cognitive decline due to Alzheimer’s.”
While extensive preclinical studies from numerous laboratories have identified single pathogenetic targets for potential intervention, in human studies, such single target therapeutic approaches have not borne out. But, said Bredesen, it’s possible addressing multiple targets within the network underlying AD may be successful even when each target is affected in a relatively modest way.
“In other words … the effects of the various targets may be additive, or even synergistic.”
The Alzheimer’s reversed study does bring hope to those who suffer from it. Alzheimer’s disease affects approximately 5.4 million Americans and 30 million people globally. Without effective prevention and treatment, the prospects for the future are bleak.