Scientists at Karolinska Institutet have reviewed a new Alzheimer’s therapy in which the patients receive an implant that stimulates the growth of a type of nerve cell. The results, which are published in the scientific journal ‘Alzheimer’s & Dementia’, suggest that the introduction of a nerve growth factor can prevent neuronal degradation in Alzheimer’s patients.
Patients with Alzheimer’s disease suffer a selective and early breakdown of so-called cholinergic nerve cells, which require a specific nerve growth factor (NGF). As NGF levels decline, the cholinergic nerve cells begin to degrade and the patient’s condition slowly deteriorates.
In an attempt to curb the breakdown of the cholinergic nerve cells, researchers at Karolinska Institutet’s Centre for Alzheimer’s Research and their colleagues at Karolinska University Hospital’s neurosurgery clinic and the Danish biotech company NsGene introduced NGF directly into the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
The study now published in ‘Alzheimer’s & Dementia’ uses data from six Alzheimer’s patients. To gauge whether the NGF release had any effect on the cholinergic nerve cells, the researchers identified the presence of specific markers of functioning cholinergic cells. Those patients that received NGF showed an increase in the markers for cholinergic cells.
Researchers also were able to detect a reduction of memory impairment over time compared with untreated patients.
Source: Karolinska Institutet