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Deep Brain Stimulation May Hold Promise in Alzheimer's

Small study of patients who underwent DBS shows possible improvement, slowing of cognitive decline

MONDAY, Aug. 9 (HealthDay News) -- The use of deep brain stimulation may provide benefits in patients with Alzheimer's disease by influencing pathological brain activity, according to research published online Aug. 4 in the Annals of Neurology.

Adrian W. Laxton, M.D., of the University of Toronto, and colleagues analyzed data from six patients with mild Alzheimer's disease who underwent deep brain stimulation, with electrodes implanted near the fornix within the hypothalamus. Subjects received continuous stimulation for 12 months.

The researchers found that some patients showed possible improvements or slowing of cognitive decline at six and 12 months based on the cognitive subscale of the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale and the Mini Mental State Examination. Stimulation led to large and sustained changes in glucose metabolism in dysfunctional brain regions and drove neural activity in the memory circuit.

"Some 4.5 million Americans suffer with Alzheimer's disease, and these numbers are expected to nearly triple by the year 2050. There is major dysfunction in cognitive and memory circuits in Alzheimer's disease. As we have shown here, deep brain stimulation offers the possibility of modulating these specific brain circuits in an adjustable and reversible fashion, and it appears that this approach can be safe. These safety and biological effects are sufficiently compelling to warrant a more thorough appraisal of the possible therapeutic benefits of this strategy in Alzheimer's disease," the authors conclude.

Laxton disclosed intellectual property in the field of deep brain stimulation.

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