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A study conducted by a team of researchers have found that lithium in doses up to 400 times lower than what is been prescribed for mood disorders is capable of halting signs of advanced Alzheimer's pathology and recovering of lost cognitive abilities. The study was conducted by McGill researchers', led by Dr. Claudio Cuello of the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, has shown that when given in a formulation that facilitates passage to brain, lithium prescribed in doses a few times lower than usually given can bring a halt to Alzheimer's disease. The finding is published in the latest edition of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.
The study's senior author, Dr Cuello, reflected on the origin of this work and gave the study's credit to Edward Wilson, a graduate student with a solid background in psychology and said he 'made all the difference'. The experiment was conducted in rats where they first investigated the conventional lithium formulation and applied it initially in rats at a dosage similar to that used in clinical practice for mood disorders. The rats immediately displayed a number of adverse effects that made the first experiment disappointing. Eventually, a new lithium formulation was then applied to rats that develop features of human Alzheimer's disease
The same lithium formulation at later stages of the disease to their transgenic rat modelling neuropathological aspects of Alzheimer's disease. This study found beneficial outcomes in diminishing pathology and improving cognition.
After the practical research, the researchers came to a conclusion that microdoses of lithium in formulations, that facilitates passage to the brain through the brain-blood barrier while minimizing levels of lithium in the blood, sparing individuals from adverse effects, should find immediate therapeutic applications.
Dr. Cuello said: "While it is unlikely that any medication will revert the irreversible brain damage at the clinical stages of Alzheimer's it is very likely that treatment with microdoses of encapsulated lithium should have tangible beneficial effects at early, preclinical stages of the disease." Dr. Cuello is hopeful of finding, medical, industrial or financial partners for an effective treatment for those suffering from Alzheimer's disease.