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Forgetfulness is considered quite common we all tend to forget little things, especially dates and tasks, occasionally. However, when a person tends to forget people and the way to perform daily living activities, it is definitely a cause for concern. Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a condition in which there are certain abnormal clumps (plaques) and tangled nerve fibres (neurofibrillary 'tau' tangles) in the brain that affect the connections between cells. Due to disruptions in the connections, information is not transmitted properly in the brain. Patients with advanced AD even tend to forget how to brush their teeth or lift a glass of water to their mouth.
Think about living with a person who has AD. The burden of the disease affects both the patient and the family as most patients require full-time care at some stage. AD commonly begins around the age of 40-50 years and unfortunately, there is no way to identify the disease at the onset at home. Moreover, there is no reversal of the disease process. Thus, when a patient is finally taken to the doctor, AD would have progressed significantly. AD is also one of the common causes of dementia.
Alzheimer's disease cannot be prevented as such, only maintaining a healthy lifestyle and performing brain strengthening exercises/games can possibly help to delay the onset of the disease. Moreover, there are no medicines either that can cure the disease. Although currently, there is one disease-modifying medicine for AD, there are insufficient studies on the same and not all patients are candidates for the drug. Medications are generally associated with side effects as well in the long run. Therefore, the need is for a newer, safe, and effective treatment.
I believe in utilising cells, growth factors and other biological molecules from one's own body for the treatment of several diseases. His treatments comprise these biological molecules in specifically-designed protocols to target the pathology of diseases and not just the signs and symptoms.
The various biological molecules in our body function to control inflammation, enhance the functions of other cells, and provide a constant pool of healthy cells to regenerate lost tissues. "Through cell-based therapy, we are only providing these molecules at the required location in the appropriate quantity," explains Dr Mahajan.
"For patients with AD, chaperones (helper proteins) and exosomes (cell-associated packets of genetic material, proteins, immune cells, etc.) that act as messenger molecules, and also help in de-tangling nerve fibres and protein deposits in the brain." These can be utilised to create a healthier environment in the brain and restore internal balance (homeostasis).
"We need to combine cell-based therapy with rehabilitation strategies as well for enhanced outcomes. With more targeted therapies being researched, it might be possible to reverse AD in the future. For now, though, regenerative medicine can be a beacon of hope for patients to help lead an independent life for as long as possible in a natural, minimally invasive manner," concludes Dr Mahajan.
(The article is contributed by Dr Pradeep Mahajan, Regenerative Medicine Researcher, StemRx Bioscience Solutions Pvt. Ltd)