New Treatment Clears Alzheimer’s Plaque In Mice
By Alex Starr
Newfound Research On Clearing Harmful Proteins Associated With Alzheimer’s
Scientists have partially cleared clumps of proteins that have been known to be harmful to brain activity in mice using only light and sound. Led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, research has been discovered that demonstrates the ability of strobe lights and low pitch buzz to regenerate braves that have been lost to Alzheimer’s disease. Ultimately, this process removes plaque and improves cognitive function according to the research done with mice who have been engineered to exhibit behavior associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
While this research hasn’t been tested on humans yet, if the study is replicated, there is hope for a potentially inexpensive and drug-free way to treat Alzheimer’s disease, which affects an estimated 5.8 million Americans. However, it is important to note that it may be a little too early to get excited seeing as brain waves in humans and mice are known to work differently.
How The Treatment Works
From what we know so far, though, here is how it works: researchers flashed a light 40 times per second into the eyes of the afflicted mice and added a sound of similar frequency in order to treat the mice’s engineered version of Alzheimer’s disease. The results were astounding as the trials discovered that using this light and sound to trigger the mice’s own brain waves to help fight the disease significantly improved their reactions. This occurs due to the involvement of the prefrontal cortex, the part of our brains that are responsible for complex functioning and higher cognitive processes, such as planning, memory, and problem-solving. This type of engagement happens after the combined visual and auditory stimulation for a week. This also results in the dramatic reduction of amyloid, a condition that can eventually damage organs and lead to organ failure.
Similar Studies With The Same Results
This isn’t wasn’t the only study to explore how sound can clear the brain of dangerous proteins. Other studies have been conducted previously. The issue is that these past investigations only considered visual parts of the brain, and omitted important areas that assist in the formation and retrieval of memory. These other studies did, however, point scientists in the right direction, showing that oscillations could play a part in helping the brain repair itself of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
Our brains transfer signals through chemicals called neurotransmitters, and they also create electromagnetic waves that keep even the remote parts of our brain in sync. These are known as brain waves. There is a specific set of oscillations called gamma-frequencies, which undulate across the brain at a rate of 30 to 90 waves per second. These oscillations occur most often when we are paying close attention and searching our memories to understand what is going on around us. A previous study revealed that these gamma waves seem to be inhibited in individuals with Alzheimer’s and are key in the pathology itself. In order to test auditory effects on amyloid, researchers exposed mice to a low sound of 40 Hertz. After one hour of exposure to the sound every day for a week, amyloid build up dropped significantly in the auditory region of the engineered mice. This demonstrated that different senses can induce gamma oscillations in the brain. Not to mention, the hippocampus (the part of the brain closely associated with memory) cleared up, too. The brain chemistry of mice wasn’t the only test that showed improvement. The mice that were treated also performed better on cognitive tasks. Once light therapy was added to the experiment in addition to the auditory treatment, results increased even more than before. Plaques were cleared all over the brain in areas such as the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for higher cognitive functioning. These results are a huge step towards better treatments for an array of neurological disorders. We still need to figure out how to apply these results to human brains which will surely take a lot of time and work, but so far it seems that clinical testing will be safe as no clear side effects have appeared.
Sources: Science Alert, Healthline, Texas DSHS