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While they are careful not to call it a cure, researchers at Ohio State University believe they may be able to reverse some of the ravages left by Alzheimer’s disease by implanting tiny electrodes in a patient’s brain and then hooking those wires up to a sort of pacemaker.
Scientists believe that deep-brain stimulation could improve symptoms by jump starting networks gunked up by the sticky proteins generated in Alzheimer’s disease.
The disease damages many of the brain’s networks, explained Dr. David Wolk, an assistant professor of neurology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and assistant director of the Penn Memory Center in Philadelphia. Wolk’s group is just starting to screen patients for a trial similar to the one at Ohio State, although the Penn researchers plan to stimulate a different area of the brain.
“The most prominent circuit involved in the disease is the one for memory,” Wolk said. “It’s thought that if we can stimulate that network we can make it perform more effectively.”
Dr. Wolk is leading this deep brain stimulation study, called ADvance, at the Penn Memory Center. For more information and to download a one-page study sheet, view the study posting here: http://pennadc.org/research/penn-memory-center-research.