Treating our livers to cure Alzheimer's? The idea sounded absurd to me until I read a news story that changed my thinking. In a story titled, "Liver treatment to cure Alzheimer's," a study conducted in the UK focused on manipulating the accumulation of neuron-damaging amyloid-beta in the brains of laboratory rats.
A healthy liver removes toxins from our bodies. The article says that scientists "found that raising A-beta blood levels slowed down the speed at which molecules of the protein were swept from the rats' brains." The rising A-beta levels mentioned were rising because the rat's livers were not doing their job of filtering out the damaging proteins.
The study, which was reported on in Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, backed up the existing theory that "freely circulating amyloid-beta concentrations outside the brain can regulate clearance rates inside the central nervous system."
According to the article, past research has "suggested that the circulatory system can act like an A-beta sink. The data clearly show that the liver is the primary drain."
This theory, if it proves worthy of translating studies to humans, would require a process to help the a person's liver keep the amyloid-beta concentrations from moving through the blood stream to the brain. Obviously, this procedure is not ready at your local doctor's office just yet. But it seems to have a chance at moving through the approval system faster than a new drug.
In my opinion, there is great need, medically and morally, to speed up help for those now living with Alzheimer's disease. This study suggests the liver treatment process may help prevent Alzheimer's, which is, of course, of huge importance.
But those coping with the disease need to know there is funding available to find ways to help them soon. A drug ten years down the road is too late to provide these people with that kind of hope. If researchers get the financial support they need to move forward, this new treatment may provide that hope.
Published On: February 25, 2009