Published on: October 29, 2012
by Makini Brice for Medical Daily:
Researchers believe that magnets could be used to boost the brain and ward off symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Two small studies have found that using a magnetic coil could stimulate the parts of the brain linked with memory and improve symptoms.
The technique is called trans-cranial magnetic stimulation. In trials performed on mice, the technique boosted growth of cells in the hippocampus, which is integral to the formation and storing of memories. The hippocampus is also one of the first regions of the brain that are destroyed by Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition, a small study in Israel found that use of the coils aided in some, but not all, tests of memory.
According to Neutronix Medical, the Israeli company developing the technology, the use of the coils reversed disease progression in patients, making their brains comparable to their appearance two years prior to the treatment.
Neutronix Medical does not profess to have a cure to the debilitating condition, but their chief executive Eyal Barror said to The Telegraph that he hopes that the procedure could improve quality-of-life for an extended period of time.
The procedure is currently being tested in Manchester. Six patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease would have a magnetic coil held over their scalp. They would need to solve problems and puzzles, and answer questions. Researchers hope that the magnetic field will strengthen connections between cells as it passes through key brain areas.
Already, researchers have examined their first patient, and say that the treatment has shown some success.
Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Treatments for the disease attempt to slow down its progression, but only last for six months to a year. The treatments also come with side effects, like nausea, confusion, and fatigue, while the coil treatment does not have any side effects.
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