Beacon Transcript – A series of recent animal tests carried out by scientist have shown that gene therapy or more specifically the injection of a specific gene into their subjects’ brain has managed to stop Alzheimer’s from developing.
The tests, which are being carried out at the Imperial College London, are very early findings in a long series of tests and trials that will have to be carried out in order to determine their relevance and deem them safe for human application.
Although still in an early phase, the confirmation of the gene therapy efficiency could signify and open new paths in the fight against Alzheimer’s and maybe even potential treatments for the degenerative disease.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most usual and widespread form of dementia, a generative disease which affects more than 47.5 million people at a worldwide level and which has no known cure. The symptoms include, amongst others, memory loss, changes in mood and personality and subsequent confusion.
A number of the currently available drug has been demonstrated to help treat the disease and in early diagnosed cases maybe even slow it down, but a cure is far from being available or even determined as the human brain has still more mysteries left to be discovered.
The new study carried out by the British researchers featured the use of mice whose brains were suspect or susceptible to AD and who were injected with a virus containing a specifically modified PGC gene. The injection targeted two areas of the mice’s brains, the hippocampus and the cortex.
Previous research revealed that the two aforementioned areas were the first to develop amyloid plaques or signs of AD. The affected areas house the short-term memory, that is to be found in the hippocampus, and the long-term memory which is stored in the cortex. The two are also responsible for orientation, thinking, reasoning, and mood.
The mice were injected in an incipient stage of the disease, before the appearance of the amyloid plaques. After a four-months period, the injected mice not only revealed a fewer number of plaques than non-treated, AD-affected mice, they also performed just as well as healthy mice when put to complete memory-related tasks.
Still, scientists are reserved in their prognostic and advice caution in regards to the over-interpretation of the news regarding gene therapy. The findings open a new path and could possibly set the foundation for a new treatment and even AD cure alternative, but is at yet unclear if the gene therapy will be effective, practical and most of all safe in the case of human treatments.
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