Scientists Successfully ‘Block’ Dementia in Mice Brains
The brain’s immune system could hold an important key to stopping dementia, according to Duke University researchers who slowed down signs of mental deterioration in mice.
Promising Study Results
Immune cells that attack nutrients in the brain could be behind some cases of dementia. Microglia is normally the brain’s first line of defense against inflammation, but sometimes it changes and breaks down an amino acid known as arginine during early dementia stages. When a chemical was used on mice to block the arginine breakdown, they did better on memory tests and showed fewer physical signs of dementia in their brains.
According to Dr, Matthew Kan, a researcher on the Duke University team, “All of this suggests to us that if you can block this local process of amino acid deprivation, then you can protect the mouse, at least from Alzheimer’s disease.We see this study opening the doors to thinking about Alzheimer’s in a completely different way, to break the stalemate of ideas in Alzheimer’s disease.”
Findings Add to Fight Against Alzheimer’s Disease
Although the findings don’t have any practical application yet, they could eventually lead to ways to slow the progression in Alzheimer’s disease in humans. The results are one more step in pinpointing factors that influence the development of dementia and ways to slow them down or block them entirely.
Doctors already know some ways to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, although there are no completely reliable methods. According to this article, strategies include exercising regularly, eating a heart-healthy diet, living a lifestyle that prevents heart disease and controlling your blood pressure. Staying mentally active also cuts into the risk of developing dementia for some seniors.
Until research finds an effective cure or preventative treatment, people suffering from dementia and their caregivers can focus on ways to improve quality of life. As this article explains, things like physical activity, pets, and relaxation training won’t slow the disease, but they make a big difference for people struggling with symptoms.