A groundbreaking new study that has seen scientists successfully reverse the effects of dementia is changing the way the scientific world once viewed the disease.
The majority of dementia treatments have focused on trying to remove amyloid plaque from the brain, however, the latest study published in Science Translational Medicine suggest that targeting brain inflammation is the silver-bullet for curing dementia.
New evidence suggests that the cause of Alzheimer’s – which is the most common form of dementia – is actually the result of leakage from the brains ‘filtration system’ known as the blood-brain barrier.
The blood-brain barrier is a border within the brain that separates circulating blood from a variety of different fluids in the central nervous system.
Previous MRI scans have found that the blood-brain barrier breaks down in nearly 60% of people by the age of 70, and it is believed that this allows harmful chemicals to seep through which is triggering inflammation and fog throughout the brain.
Experiments that were conducted on mice showed that this fog alters brain rhythms which leads to momentary lapses in the area of the brain that controls memory.
The mice were given a drug called IPW that blocks a brain receptor known as TGF-β which triggers an inflammation-causing blood protein, and the results are nothing short of astounding.
The drug reduced inflammation in the brains of senile mice and scans revealed that their brains actually looked and functioned similarly to mice of a much younger age.
The mice were also able to navigate a maze and had regained their ability to learn spatial tasks similar to a young mouse.
Experts are optimistic that this approach will have the same effect on humans and possibly lead to a cure for dementia, and there is also hope the same strategy could help people mentally recover from strokes, concussions and brain injuries.
Leaking blood-brain barriers and abnormal brain rhythms are detectable by a number of scans, and this new discovery could be used to accurately diagnose dementia and signal the time to intervene and use a drug to stop the disease.
Scientists involved with this study have now started a company to develop a drug that will be used to heal leakage in the blood-brain barrier of humans and potentially improve the lives of millions across the globe living with dementia.