An Australian team of researchers have come up with a non-invasive ultrasound technology that clears the brain of neurotoxic lesions. Two of the most common being Amyloid Plaques and Neurofibrillary Tangles. Amyloid Plaques sit between the neurons and end up clumping together to create a very sticky type of protein called Beta-Amyloid Molecules. Neurofibrillary Tangles are similar to Amyloid Plaques, but instead of clumping together between neurons; they clog and create twists in microtubes. Similar to fat clogging up our blood vessels.
Due to there being no vaccine or preventative measure for Alzheimer’s, affecting approximately 50 million people worldwide; this new process sounds like it’s a great leap in the right direction. Current testing shows at least 75% of test subjects (mice) regained full cognitive function with zero damage to the brain tissue. The testing process included a maze, recognising new objects and recognising avoidable places; Pinky and the Brain comes to mind here.
“We’re extremely excited by this innovation of treating Alzheimer’s without using drug therapeutics,” one of the team, Jürgen Götz, said in a press release. “The word ‘breakthrough’ is often misused, but in this case I think this really does fundamentally change our understanding of how to treat this disease, and I foresee a great future for this approach.”
This process sounds like a deep clean of your mouth, maybe this could become a wide range, preventative treatment; sort of like brushing your teeth to remove tooth plaque. The team behind this experiment a pushing planning through to start trials on higher animal models, such as sheep and hope to move to human trials in 2017.
Modern medicine nowadays tries to ‘fix’ us with pills and drugs, even when the latter type of medication proves to be ineffective. A natural phenomenon that we tend to medicalize is aging, a process we all have to face sooner or later. Statistics show that around 1.5 million people are institutionalized in the United States alone, 80% of which have been separated because they are suffering from Alzheimer or other forms of dementia.
For these people, a normal day starts and ends with powerful psychotropic drugs, with the treatment not aimed at curing the disease, but at making the patients more malleable and manageable. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on these drugs annually, providing limited relief and often comes with significant side effects. However, in this particular case, non-pharmaceutical interventions has proven to be more effective. Whether it is access to companion animals, dietary supplements, memory training or even art therapy, science has proven that the latter provide meaningful benefits without the cost or the dangers of drugs.
One of the most significant of all non-pharmaceutical approaches to Alzheimer and dementia patients has proven to be music. The concept is said to be very simple and involving a simple MP3 player, such as an iPod, and a special playlist for each patient. The benefits resulting from this approach are said to include better memory, improved mood, decreed pain, increased involvement in the world and enhanced well-being. 2014 Sundance Film Festival Audience Choice Award-winning documentary film by Michael Rossato-Bennett, Alive Inside (video below), is shown to provide a testament to the power of reconnecting dementia sufferers with their deepest sense of self.
Music is said to be a side door into a part of the mind that is relatively undamaged by dementia. People are said to process music with almost every part of the brain and music with personal meaning can promote extremely strong responses. Clinical studies have demonstrated that it is possible for personalized music to have a greater effect than medication and that it can even trigger long-term memories. It is said that there is currently no drug on the market that can help a person reconnect with their vital essence the way music does.
However, the practices shown in the documentary are yet to be considered as real-life effective treatment for Alzheimer or dementia patients. Nonetheless, this does not stop family members from using the powerful tool of personalized music with their loved ones.
3D printing is once again showing how it can be a life changing piece of technology after a team of surgeons in Spain used their 3D printers to help save the life of a 5-year old cancer patient. The boy was suffering from neuroblastoma, which meant that he needed to have a tumour removed from around his stomach. Unfortunately after two failed attempts the surgeons were at a loss and couldn’t save the boy.
“We tried the surgery twice but we failed because we could not access,” head surgeon Jaume Mora said at a press conference Wednesday. “Instead of surrendering, we tried to find a solution.”
The team at Hospital Sant Joan de Deu in Barcelona and the team at CIM Foundation at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia joined forces to create a 3D printed replica of the boy’s tumour, allowing the surgeons to practice the procedure. The extra training on a simulated stomach and tumour allowed the surgeons to precisely learn how to deal with the patient and just 1.5 weeks after they were able to successfully remove the tumour from the boy’s body.
The surgery went so well that the boy will not even need any follow-up surgeries, and doctors were so impressed with their final results that they commissioned 3D printed models for two other patients.
Thank you CNET for providing us with this information.