Alzheimer’s is a complex and heart-breaking medical condition that not only affects the victim. It also causes major heartache among families, who must sit back and watch their loved one experience significant cognitive decline.
Medical professionals and researchers understand how traumatic this decline is, which has led them to develop many future treatments, according to NPR. Here are a few of those treatments and how they might help one day.
Boosting immune cells
Immune cells are an important defense against amyloid plaques, which are a key feature of Alzheimer’s. Immune cells naturally decrease as a person ages, which means their defenses against amyloids are naturally less robust. This has led researchers to look for ways to possibly fortify immune function in the elderly. Experiments are currently underway, but medical professionals are optimistic that a possible treatment will emerge.
Eliminating problem proteins
Tau is a form of protein that accumulates in unusual amounts in people with Alzheimer’s. As problematic forms of the protein grow within the brain, patients experience more severe cognitive decline. While some medications can reduce tau, they have difficulty reaching the necessary parts of the brain. Researchers then used another protein, known as transferrin, to carry the medication to the proper areas. The result appears promising, but human trials are still pending.
Strengthening brain waves
Light and sound wave therapy has a number of applications in the medical field. When researchers identified that the brain waves of people with Alzheimer’s are generally weaker, they wondered whether exposing patients to a certain frequency of lights and sounds could improve brain wave strength. After successful trial runs in mice, they used the therapy on human subjects with mild symptoms.
Subjects used special devices at home for one hour per day. Researchers found that the brain atrophy that typically occurs over a three-month period was not present in the light and sound therapy patients.