Researchers have recently discovered what might be the cure for Alzheimer's disease, an illness affecting the lives of 5.4 million Americans. Experts believe that they can halt the disease's progression by injecting a gene called PGC1-alpha into the memory center of the brain.
The said gene is vital in destroying build-up of amyloid beta plaques. Scientists tested the gene into mice and found that not only they did not develop plaques, but the animals also performed well in memory tasks four months after the therapy, reported the Telegraph.
Furthermore, the treated mice did not exhibit loss of brain cells and were less likely to experience toxic inflammatory effects that cause cell damage linking it to Alzheimer development. All these positive results are pointing towards the direction that this medical advancement may very well put an end to the degenerative disease.
Researchers Expecting Barriers Through The Therapy's Course
The study is still in its infancy stage but Dr. Magdalena Sastre, the senior author of the breakthrough, is hopeful that this could be the key to halting the diseases in its track or preventing it from occurring entirely. "In a disease that urgently needs new options for patients, this work provides hope for future therapies," Sastre said.
But similar to studies that are in its early stages, Sastre admits that they are expecting obstacles throughout this study's development. "There are many hurdles to overcome, and at the moment the only way to deliver the gene is via an injection directly into the brain. However, this proof of concept study shows this approach warrants further investigation," Sastre added.
This sentiment is echoed by Rob Howard, a professor of old age psychiatry. "Before clinical effectiveness trials of this technology in Alzheimer patients can be conducted, I would anticipate several years of early phase and safety studies. Only time will tell," Howard said.
The Brain's Region Where PGC1-Alpha Is To Be Injected
There are two area of the brain where the gene is to be introduced: the hippocampus and the cortex, according to The Daily Mail. The former is responsible for orientation and short-term memory, while the latter's function is in long-term memory, reasoning, thinking and mood.
Both of these regions are the first to be affected when a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. Researchers believe that when plaque builds up in these parts, the death of brain cells ensue.
The gene used in destroying these build-ups is a harmless, modified virus edited to rewrite the brain cells' genetic code resulting in increased production of the PCG1-alpha. The researchers believe that the treatment is most effective when introduced during the easrly stages of the disease.