Sat. Jun 15th, 2024

By Donna Westfall

Credit to: Science Alert, BEC CREW, March 18 2015


Australian researchers have come up with a non-invasive ultrasound technology that clears the brain of neurotoxic amyloid plaques – structures that are responsible for memory loss and a decline in cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients.

50 million people suffer with Alzheimers Disease (AD) worldwide  That’s a staggering number and there’s no vaccine or preventive measures currently available.

However, rejeuvenating the aging brain and clearing the build-up of defective beta-amyloid proteins from a patient’s brain has had a 75% success rate in experiments involving non-invasive ultrasound on mice.

A team from the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) at the University of Queensland have come up with a pretty promising solution by using sound waves into the brain tissue.  By oscillating super-fast, these sound waves are able to gently open up the blood-brain barrier, which is a layer that protects the brain against bacteria, and stimulate the brain’s microglial cells to move in. Microglila cells are basically waste-removal cells, so once they get past the blood-brain barrier, they’re able to clear out the toxic beta-amyloid clumps before the blood-brain barrier is restored within a few hours.

What is amyloid plaque?

It is the sticky buildup which accumulates outside nerve cells, or neurons. 

Amyloid is a protein that is normally found throughout the body. For reasons as yet unknown, in AD, the protein divides improperly, creating a form called beta amyloid which is toxic to neurons in the brain. No one really knows why beta amyloid is formed or why it causes cell death. One possibility is that it may break into fragments, releasing substances called free radicals that attack neurons. Another possibility is that beta amyloid forms tiny channels (holes) in neuron membranes, allowing influx of unlimited amounts of calcium. Although regulated amounts of calcium are necessary for normal neuronal function, too much can kill a neuron. However beta amyloid does its work, the result is that neurons begin to die. Plaques begin to form that consist of these degenerating neurons and clumps of the amyloid protein itself. The body cannot break these clumps down and dispose of them, so they accumulate in the brain.

Free radicals are important to the body as they help fight immune diseases. When there are too many free radicals, it can upset the delicate balance within neurons in the body. In a catch 22, nerve cells producing beta amyloid produce free radicals. And free radicals produce beta amyloid.



Is there a relationship with high cholesterol and Alzheimers Disease?

An association between cholesterol and the development of AD was suggested in 1994 and since then, research has confirmed a link between cholesterol and the development of AD.  A high cholesterol level in mid-life is a risk for AD and some say statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs), reduce this risk. Statins act by blocking the enzyme in your liver that is responsible for making cholesterol. But be aware of the side effects of statin drugs and do your homework. 

Is Alzheimers Disease hereditary?

Yes, it can be. There are two categories of genes that influence whether a person develops a disease: (1) risk genes and (2) deterministic genes. Researchers have identified Alzheimer’s genes in both categories. Researchers believe that the damage begins up to a decade before symptoms appear.

Scientists believe that for most people, the disease has genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors. People whose parents or siblings have the disease are at a slightly higher risk of developing the condition.

Other Risks:

Just as great a risk is head trauma because a traumatic brain injury creates large amounts of beta amyloid, which can later form into the damaging plaque that can develop into AD.

More women than men develop AD.  They are at greater risk after menopause because of the decrease in estrogen, which protected the brain.

5 Surprising Causes Of Alzheimer’s Disease

Taking benzodiazepines (meds for anxiety and insomnia) for more than three months was associated with up to a 51% increase in Alzheimer’s disease.

Ways to Decrease Alzheimers Risk:

Eat a healthy diet.

Exercising regularly

Don’t smoke or quit smoking

Controlling diabetes

Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol

Get adequate sleep

Challenge your mind by stimulating it with reading, challenging leisure activities. Keep learning new things.

The good news:

The team from QBI reports that with a 75% success rate in restoring memory to the mice there was zero damage to the surrounding brain tissue.

After conducting tests on larger animals, the team hopes to get human trials underway in 2017.



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