Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, is believed to affect 50 million people worldwide and usually begins after age 65 – Copyright AFP / File Philippe LOPEZ
This month has seen some innovative advances in Alzheimer’s research, which represents an important area of research as the world’s population continues to age. digital newspaper analyzes three important areas of scientific research. These studies have been reported from scientists working at USC.
Drugs that rejuvenate brain stem cells could prevent Alzheimer’s
Researchers show interest in the biological aging of neuronal stem cells (the stem cells of the nervous system). These are particularly vulnerable to the ravages of time, contributing to normal age-related cognitive impairment as well as Alzheimer’s disease.
He the research is led by Michael Bonaguidi, assistant professor of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine, gerontology and biomedical engineering at the Keck School of Medicine at USC.
To combat these challenges, the Bonaguidi lab has identified a chemotherapy drug, Imatinib, that encourages neuronal stem cells to divide further. Other studies try to induce these stem cells to produce more new neurons and show that these additional neurons improve learning and memory.
Could virtual reality serve as a form of “medicine” to preserve cognition?
An extensive corpus of literature has found that exercise improves cognition. But very few studies have analyzed physical and cognitive activity simultaneously in a virtual reality environment. This is according to Judy Pa, associate professor at the Mark and Mary Stevens Institute of Neuroimaging and Computer Science at the Keck School of Medicine and the Department of Neurology.
Studies are being conducted, where volunteers wear virtual reality headsets on sports bikes and see if this affects their cognition. We are excited about the potential to create an adaptable and safe environment to improve cognitive dysfunction in older adults at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
Stem cells can generate patient-specific models for Alzheimer’s studies
According to Justin Ichida, a researcher who uses a stem cell-based approach to create specific models for Alzheimer’s disease patients in the laboratory. This approach will help the development of therapies aimed at individual patients.
To achieve this, the Ichida laboratory takes small samples of skin or blood from patients. They then reprogram these skin or blood cells to turn them into immune cells called microglia, which remove and clean up proteins and tangled plaques from the brain.
The goal is to see if these microglia stop debugging in response to genetic changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease, with the goal of better guiding the search for new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.