Alzheimer's disease is a progressive mural degenerative disorder that affects the brain. To date, physicians and scientific researchers have not yet determined the exact cause of Alzheimer's disease, which increasingly disrupts brain function, memory, judgment, and communication. In the United States alone, a person is diagnosed with various stages of Alzheimer's every 2 minutes, and by the year 2030, individuals diagnosed with the disease in the United States alone is expected to reach 8 million.
The hope for cure for Alzheimer's has been ongoing for decades but recent discoveries, understanding and technologies in stem cell research may offer researchers a step in the right direction.
Recent Advancements in Stem Cell Research
Recent advancements in the study of Alzheimer's disease brain function in mice has determined that neural stem cells injected into the brains of those mice help to rebuild neural connections and thereby improve cognitive function. Findings of the study were released in a July 2009 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy Of Sciences.
The study focuses on the degenerative loss of synapses, commonly called neuron connections, within the brain. The protein that helps to regenerate neural function is called BDNF (brain derived neurotropic factor). Development of such therapy for Alzheimer's disease involving human neural stem cell research and development is underway by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
In addition, human growth factors that serve to stimulate blood stem cell production and proliferation in the body's bone marrow has also been studied in its ability to reverse memory impairment in mice. Researchers at the University of South Florida have determined that GCSF (granulocyte colony stimulating factor) has been shown to reduce levels of a specific protein (beta amyloid) that literally clog the brain, while at the same time increasing the production of neuron development and increased nerve cell connections.
Such studies were reported in August 2009 issue of Neuroscience journal. GCSF is a stem cell growth factor found in blood that stimulates bone marrow to increase production of white blood cells, which fight infection.
Both BDNF and GCSF show promise in not merely alleviating symptoms of Alzheimer's, but reversing the disease process by improving memory and promoting the development of healthy neural stem cells.
Another source of stem cells, umbilical cord stem cells, have also been shown to retard the progression of Alzheimer's symptoms in mice. Research conducted by Cryo-Cell International, Inc., determined that infusions of umbilical cord blood cells reduced the amount of myeloid beta proteins and cerebral amyloid angiopathy, two main contributing factors to the progression of Alzheimer's in the brain.
Benefits From Stem Cell Treatments
While research and development in stem cell technologies for the treatment of Alzheimer's symptoms is still in its infancy, the advancements and studies performed on mice, animals, and in some cases, humans have shown promise. Stem cell technology and treatments are not yet available in the United States, but are currently undergoing Phase I clinical trials.
Stem cell research offers a multitude of benefits for Alzheimer's patients, including low risk of rejection, improved memory, cognitive function and mental acuity.
Obtaining Stem Cell Treatments
When seeking stem cell treatments abroad, consumers are encouraged to ask questions that include but are not limited to:
- Can you offer proof that these stem cell therapy treatments work?
- Can I speak with former patients who have undergone such therapies?
- Who are (and what are the credentials) of the physician or surgeon administering stem cell therapies or treatments?
- How long has the organization offered such treatments?
- How safe is the treatment? Are there risks involved?
Stem cell technology offers patients as well as relatives of those diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease hope for the future. The push to continue research and develop treatments, procedures and protocols will eventually find a cure to one of the most devastating illnesses that afflicts mankind today.
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