Alzheimer's Treatment Could Include Brain 'Pacemaker'

A new study has found that a device implanted in the brain could slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease. John Hopkins University conducted a study that included implantation of the device, which is similar to a pacemaker, and found that it was successful in slowing the disease's progression.

"We find that increases in glucose metabolism lead to improvements in brain function correlated with behaviors- so patients with greater increases had better clinical outcomes in Alzheimer's disease as far as keeping the disease where it is, and keeping it stable," lead researcher Gwen Smith told Fox News.

The "pacemaker" functions by using electrodes to stimulate the brain, thereby increasing glucose levels in the brain. Those glucose increases greatly help fight against the progression of Alzheimer's.

"In the regular course of Alzheimer's, glucose metabolism is decreased and a widespread network of brain regions are affected," she added.

According to the Alzheimer's Federation of America, as many as 5.1 million Americans may have Alzheimer's disease, and the rate is increasing.

"I don't want to oversell the potential for treatment," Smith told Fox.

The study conducted by Smith and John Hopkins took place over one year's time, with PET scans routinely conducted to monitor glucose levels. Doctors are cautiously optimistic at the results, which could lead to the device being sold if given FDA approval.
Right now, multiple research studies are being done with drug therapies and behavioral management to see if there is anything to be done to prevent Alzheimer's from taking control of one's life. The FDA has approved at least four medications to help with the treatment of Alzheimer's.

"There's no cure, so people are so desperate to find treatments that are effective. The results were encouraging, but we're still very early in testing," Smith cautioned. Until the device receives further testing and approval, people with Alzheimer's, and those who care from them, should form an action plan with their doctors.