Will Deep Brain Electrical Stimulation Help Alzheimer’s?

  • It's called serendipity - stumbling on something while you are looking for something else. There's a possibility that a serendipitous finding may help those with Alzheimer's disease. 


    In an article published on technologyreview.com titled, "A New Approach to Treating Alzheimer's: Electrodes implanted in the brain show promise in early trials," we learn about a neurosurgeon named Andres Lozano who was studying deep-brain stimulation for obesity patients. The patient he was working on showed little change in his weight, however his memory skyrocketed. 


    Deep brain stimulation has been used for Parkinson's disease. In fact it was mentioned in a book I reviewed for OurAlzheimer's titled Living Well With Parkinson's Disease. It's also used for some types of epilepsy and for depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Lozano is trying to commercialize the technique. He is currently testing six patients in the early stages of Alzheimer's.

    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:

    According to the story, "In the procedure, a thin electrode is surgically implanted into part of the brain, stimulating neurons in brain areas affected by disease. The voltage delivered to the brain is controlled by a power pack implanted in the patient's chest and connected to the electrode via wires threaded beneath the skin"

    The story goes on to say that Lozano and his colleagues have seen promising results in their trial patients, so they are aiming for larger clinical trials. As with all promising new treatments, time will tell whether this is something that will be a huge boon to people with Alzheimer's, a total failure, or something in-between.

    Doctor's choices of treatments are bound to grow. I read three or four books at a time, just trying to keep up on new findings in the field. I also search for new studies so that I can learn and, hopefully, help keep you, my readers, informed. I find the new research encouraging. I find new research that uses older drugs, such as the one I wrote about it  in  Are Alzheimer's and Schizophrenia Related?, and older, proven techniques especially exciting, as they already exist and have been through trials for other uses. This gives doctors an option of using them "off label," so they can be put new information to use sooner than they can with newer research that takes years to get approval.


    Researchers must keep looking at this disease from different angles. And perhaps, every once in a while, a researcher may stumble upon a significant treatment for Alzheimer's when he or she is looking for something else. Who cares how it's found? We just want some viable options - the sooner the better.


    For more information about Carol go to www.mindingourelders.com or www.mindingoureldersblogs.com.

Published On: May 30, 2008