ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS Atlanta) – A new study has found memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease to be reversed during a personalized and comprehensive program.
The study was conducted by the UCLA Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease and Research and the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.
Researchers found that nine out of 10 study participants displayed subjective or objective improvement in their memories beginning within three-to-six months after the program began.
In the beginning, six patients who had to discontinue working or were struggling with their jobs at the time they began the study all were able to return to work or continue working with improved performance.
The first 10 participants included people with memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI), or subjective cognitive impairment (SCI). Only one patient diagnosed with late stage Alzheimer’s didn’t improve.
This study is the first study to suggest that memory loss in patients with Alzheimer’s disease may be reversed and improvement sustained using the complex 36-point therapeutic program. It involves comprehensive changes in diet, brain stimulation, exercise, optimization of sleep, specific pharmaceuticals and vitamins, and multiple additional steps that affect brain chemistry.
Dale Bredesen, the Augustus Rose Professor of Neurology and Director of the Easton Center at UCLA, a professor at the Buck Institute, and the author of the paper, explained to Newswise that the findings “are very encouraging.”
“However, at the current time the results are anecdotal, and therefore a more extensive, controlled clinical trial is warranted,” Bredesen added.
Bredesen noted that there isn’t one specific drug that has been created which stops or even slows down the disease’s progression.
“In the past decade alone, hundreds of clinical trials have been conducted for Alzheimer’s at an aggregate cost of over a billion dollars, without success,” he said.
Bredesen explained that his research was influenced by the uniform failure of drug trials for Alzheimer’s and that he wanted to get a better understanding of the fundamental nature of the disease. His group found evidence that the disease stems from an imbalance in nerve cell signaling, citing that a normal brain signals specific nerve connections and memory making while balancing signals support memory loss allowing irrelevant information to be forgotten. However, in Alzheimer’s disease, the balance of these opposing signals is interrupted and nerve connections are suppressed causing memories to be lost.
He decided that a systems type approach in terms of treatment would be better.
“The existing Alzheimer’s drugs affect a single target, but Alzheimer’s disease is more complex. Imagine having a roof with 36 holes in it, and your drug patched one hole very well—the drug may have worked, a single “hole” may have been fixed, but you still have 35 other leaks, and so the underlying process may not be affected much,” Bredesen explained to Newswise.
His approach is personalized to the patient based on extensive testing to find out what is affecting the plasticity signaling network of the brain.
The study was published in the online edition of the journal Aging.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited that in 2014 41.8 percent of residents are living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia at assisted living or other residential care facilities.