Magnets can be used to ease the pain of Alzheimer’s, researchers believe. Small-scale studies have shown that using magnetic coil to stimulate various parts of the brain involved in learning and memory can help alleviate the symptoms of Alzheimer’s , the Daily Mail reports.
The technology had already been tried on Alzheimer’s patients, with promising results, and is now being tested in England. Six patients in the early stages of the disease will have a magnetic coil held over their scalp as they take part in various cognition-skill related activities. It is hoped that as the magnetic field passes into key brain areas it will strengthen vital connections between cells. When tested on mice, the technique, known as trans-cranial magnetic stimulation boosted the growth of cells in the hippocampus, the brain’s memory hub and one of the first areas ravaged by Alzheimer’s.
An earlier trial in Israel, proved that it was both safe and effective, with significant improvements in some cases.
Israeli firm Neuronix Medical, which is developing the treatment, said, ‘The results showed marked reversal of disease progression with patients improving to a state comparable to two years before treatment initiation. ‘Trials also indicated that improvement is maintained for at least six months post-treatment.’ Professor Karl Herholz, who is testing the device in Manchester, said, ‘We have just finished treating the first patient. It’s a promising approach. ‘Medical interventions using drugs tend to have side-effects which are a problem in the early stages when people still function relatively well. ‘Even something that can be effective for three months or half a year would make a substantial difference.’
Current drugs can halt the progression of the disease but do not work for everyone and their effects diminish over time. Neuronix Medical’s chief executive, Eyal Baror, told the Sunday Telegraph, ‘We are not offering a cure but a way to help patients stay independent and have a better quality of life for longer. ‘
Dr Simon Ridley, of Alzheimer’s Research UK, which is helping fund the Manchester trial, described
Trans-cranial magnetic stimulation has also shown some promise in diseases like depression and schizophrenia.