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Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are a leading cause of death and as the population ages are becoming even more prevalent. So far, there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease and the best the medical system can do is hopefully slow down the progression of the disease.

But recently there has been a number of interesting studies suggesting that there may be a happy ending for dementia patients in the not-too-distant future.

Some of these studies, like the one in this article, are tackling Alzheimer’s Disease from a completely different angle.

Treating Alzheimer’s by Focusing on the Body, NOT the Brain

A study from UTHealth Houston suggests that a novel, disease-modifying therapy for Alzheimer’s disease may involve whole blood exchange, which effectively reduced the formation of amyloid plaque in the brains of mice.

Research led by Claudio Soto, professor of neurology at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, saw a series of whole blood exchange treatments partially replace blood from mice exhibiting Alzheimer’s disease-causing amyloid precursor proteins with complete blood from healthy mice of the same genetic background.

Amazingly, after several blood transfusions, the development of cerebral amyloid plaques was reduced by 40% to 80%. It also improved the spatial memory performance of old mice with amyloid pathology and slowed the rate of plaque growth over time.

“This article provides a proof-of-concept for the utilization of technologies commonly used in medical practice, such as plasmapheresis or blood dialysis, to ‘clean’ blood from Alzheimer’s patients, reducing the buildup of toxic substances in the brain… This approach has the advantage that the disease can be treated in the circulation instead of in the brain.”

– Claudio Soto, director of the George and Cynthia Mitchell Center for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Brain Disorders and the Huffington Foundation Distinguished Chair in Neurology at McGovern Medical School.

The mechanism of action is not known but they hypothesize that lowering amyloid beta proteins in the bloodstream may cause a redistribution from the brain to the body. Or possibly the blood exchange somehow prevents amyloid beta influx or prevents re-uptake of cleared amyloid beta.

Nevertheless, the study shows that the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease can actually be focused on the body instead of the brain.

The results were published in Molecular Psychiatry

Read more > Whole blood exchange could offer disease-modifying therapy for Alzheimer’s disease, study finds

Read the study > Preventive and therapeutic reduction of amyloid deposition and behavioral impairments in a model of Alzheimer’s disease by whole blood exchange

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