Tags: brain | pacemaker | alzheimer

'Brain Pacemaker' Eases Alzheimer's

Wednesday, 09 May 2012 11:28 AM

Scientists have found that a new form of mild electro “shock” therapy appears to boost brain activity and may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
In a study involving a small number of people with suspected Alzheimer’s, researchers determined an implantable “brain pacemaker” – a device that sends continuous electrical impulses to specific "memory" regions of the brain – had a beneficial effect.
Results of the study, reported in the Archives of Neurology, suggest using deep brain stimulation -- now used in patients with Parkinson's disease and depression -- may offer a promising alternative to some people with Alzheimer’s.
"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," said Gwenn Smith, a psychiatric specialist with the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who helped conduct the study.
The research was conducted while Smith was on the faculty at the University of Toronto, and will be continuing at Toronto, Hopkins and other sites.
For the study, study participants had the “brain pacemakers” surgically implanted, then researchers conducted PET scans of their brains 13 months later to track changes in brain cells' metabolism of glucose. They found that patients had increases in glucose metabolism, an indicator of brain cell activity, that were larger than those in patients on drugs now marketed to fight AD progression.
Experts estimate as many as 5.1 million Americans have AD and that, as baby boomers age, prevalence will skyrocket.

© HealthDay

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Implantable device that delivers mild 'shock' therapy may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Wednesday, 09 May 2012 11:28 AM
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