Researchers are exploring how to enhance brain activity through light stimulation in the hope of advancing a new strategy to prevent Alzheimer’s disease from developing.
The study is investigating new ways in which build-up of a protein toxic to brain cells, known as beta amyloid, could be halted with the use of light stimulation in areas of the brain which are particularly vulnerable to Alzheimer’s.
Scientists at the University of Strathclyde hope the 14-month study could lead to a new prevention strategy for Alzheimer’s in people at high risk of the disease, which is the most common cause of dementia.
There currently are no effective treatments or a cure for Alzheimer’s.
Dr Shuzo Sakata, a senior lecturer at Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, is leading the study.
He said: “The lack of a cure for Alzheimer’s disease means there is an urgent need to develop new, innovative approaches to combating it.
“We have known for a long time that the beta amyloid protein is toxic to brain cells; it has recently been found that manipulating the activity of neurons can reduce the protein in some regions of the brain.
“But what is not well understood is how it can be used to do this across many brain regions at the same time.
“We are hopeful that this research can contribute to a new strategy for stopping Alzheimer’s developing, particularly in people who, owing to family history or genetic issues, are seen to be at high risk of the disease.”
Meanwhile in a separate study, research from the Universities of Dundee and Oxford has shown how combining the tetanus vaccine with a viral particle that normally affects cucumbers can be used to treat psoriasis and allergies, and may even protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
The paper is published in the journal Nature Vaccines.
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