Memory loss in patients with Alzheimer’s disease may be reversed — and the improvement sustained — using a novel treatment approach, a small exploratory study has found.
The study, which included 10 patients, used a combination of therapies which were personalised to help them reverse memory loss (Bredesen, 2014).
Some patients were getting disoriented while driving, others mixing up names and some had been forced to quit their jobs.
Within three to six months of the treatment all but one of the patients was seeing either objective or subjective improvements in their memory.
Those who had been forced to quit work were able to return.
One of the patients was a 55-year-old attorney who had been suffering memory loss for four years, but showed a remarkable improvement from the program:
“After five months on the therapeutic program, she noted that she no longer needed her iPad for notes, and no longer needed to record conversations.
She was able to work once again, was able to learn Spanish, and began to learn a new legal specialty.
Her children noted that she no longer became lost in mid-sentence, no longer thought she had asked them to do something that she had not asked, and answered their questions with normal rapidity and memory.”
Professor Dale Bredesen, who authored the study, explained that the key is taking a multi-systems approach:
“The existing Alzheimer’s drugs affect a single target, but Alzheimer’s disease is more complex.
Imagine having a roof with 36 holes in it, and your drug patched one hole very well — the drug may have worked, a single “hole” may have been fixed, but you still have 35 other leaks, and so the underlying process may not be affected much.”
In total Professor Bredesen’s therapeutic plan has 36-points, the exact combination of which was tailored for each patient.
As he is the first to say, though, the study is only a small one:
“This is the first successful demonstration.
The current, anecdotal results require a larger trial, not only to confirm or refute the results reported here, but also to address key questions raised, such as the degree of improvement that can be achieved routinely, how late in the course of cognitive decline reversal can be effected, whether such an approach may be effective in patients with familial Alzheimer’s disease, and last, how long improvement can be sustained.”
→ Try one of PsyBlog’s ebooks, all written by Dr Jeremy Dean:
Still, even though the study is small, the results are striking — and hopeful.