Stunning discovery on Alzheimer’s could lead to a cure

Stunning discovery on Alzheimer’s could lead to a cure

A new study has found that people with Alzheimer's may not lose their memories at all.

A major new study has found hope for Alzheimer’s disease sufferers.

The study found that sufferers of Alzheimer’s may not have lost their memories at all, but are simply having difficulty accessing them, and it could mean it’s posssible to develop a treatment that could cure dementia, according to an MIT statement.

Studies on mice have indicated that using a blue light to stimulate certain areas of the brain can help them recall thoughts previously thought lost. The results were published recently, showing that there is hope for Alzheimer’s sufferers.

The research team used mice that had been genetically modified so their symptoms were similar to that of humans with Alzheimer’s. They were then put in a box with a low electrical current, providing an unpleasant but not dangerous shock. If the mouse is returned to the box, in freezes in fear in anticipation to the shock, but mice with Alzheimer’s don’t. However, when scientists stimulated certain areas of the brain associated with memory using blue light, they did indeed recall the shock.

“The important point is, this a proof of concept. That is, even if a memory seems to be gone, it is still there. It’s a matter of how to retrieve it,” Susumu Tonegawa, the Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience and director of the RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics and the senior author of the study, said in the statement. “If we want to recall a memory, the memory-holding cells have to be reactivated by the correct cue. If the spine density does not go up during learning process, then later, if you give a natural recall cue, it may not be able to reach the nucleus of the engram cells.”

Dheeraj Roy, an MIT graduated student and the lead author on the paper, said: “Directly activating the cells that we believe are holding the memory gets them to retrieve it. This suggests that it is indeed an access problem to the information, not that they’re unable to learn or store this memory.”

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