Stem Cell-based therapies for Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer´s Disease (AD) is a disease many people are affected by. The progressive loss of memory and decreasing levels of concentration are the main symptoms and cause anxiety and uncertainty in patients and their family and friends.
There is currently no cure or treatment that could stop the progression of AD. Treatment consists mainly of dealing with the various symptoms. Scientists and researchers worldwide search for a curative treatment and options to prevent AD progression.
An encouraging approach are stem cell-based therapies. Stem cell therapies have demonstrated the ability to stimulate repair and regenerative processes in damaged neurons. This can open the door to new treatment options that may be related with better clinical outcome than the currently available medication options.
Alzheimer´s Disease: The disease of oblivion
AD is the most common reason for dementia worldwide and make 50-70% of all dementias. It is a neurodegenerative illness, which means that it is caused by deterioration of brain cells, called neurons. These neurons are no longer a part of the neuronal network and with that the sufficiency of the cerebral capacity decreases, resulting in typical symptoms like fading memories, decreasing recognition of people and many other symptoms discussed below.
Most people affected are beyond the age of 65, but about 7% of all AD diagnosis define the so called presenile form, where also way younger people get the first symptoms. In such cases genetic factors play a large role.
The prevalence for people older than 80 years of suffering from AD is almost 40%, so many people will be affected by this “disease of oblivion”. The life expectancy is about 8 years from diagnosis, due to the progredient needed care and more often occurred infections i.e. pneumonia.
Despite these large numbers of new diagnoses every year, there is still no cure and the treatment options are poor. The market currently offers few treatment options for this severe disease. The main focus is dealing with the symptoms, like depressive episodes, sleeping disorders and restlessness. The medications in the field of anti-dementive drugs are given to try to slow down the progress of the dementia, but it is also not a curative approach.
Stem Cell-based therapies for Alzheimer´s disease
Histological tests of people with AD revealed that their brains have areas of what is called β-amyloid-plaques. There is an imbalance of production and reduction of this protein, which is highly suspected to play a large role in developing the disease.
Latest research has shown that human mesenchymal stem cells derived from adipose tissue, excrete an enzyme (called neprilysin) responsible for clearing the brain tissue from β-amyloid-plaques. Additionally, stem cell-based therapies have the ability to stimulate repair processes and regeneration in neurons which are already damaged.
Based on these findings it is implicated that stem cell-based therapies can help to keep the balance of increasing and decreasing of plaques and therefore help to treat Alzheimer´s Disease.
Treating Early-Stage Alzheimer's Disease at ANOVA
Our team focusses on offering our patients a personalized treatment in regenerative medicine. We aim to combine well-established therapies with novel and promising therapies to obtain the best possible outcome. Just as importantly, a full diagnostic work-up is a necessity to fully understand the patient’s current state. The combination with diagnostics with state-of-the-art technology and evidence-based effective therapies make our treatments so special. But, as with any type of treatment, experimental therapy such as stem cell-based therapy cannot promise any success. Before the attending physician can suggest an experimental therapy, he or she must individually check whether benefits of the treatment are given for the patient and whether these benefits outweigh the potential risks. Make an appointment today to learn more about your treatment options at ANOVA.
FAQ: Stem Cell-based therapies for Alzheimer’s disease
Besides dementia, AD has many symptoms.
Early occurring symptoms:
- Troubles memorising new contents
- Temporal and spatial disorientation
- Problems in concentration
- Depressive symptoms
- Reduced Motivation
Late occurring symptoms:
- Fading memories
- Troubles recognising people
- Disorientation regarding person and situation
- Apraxia, Alexia, Agnosia
- Neuropsychiatric symptoms
- Sleeping disorders
These are only few of the many symptoms of Alzheimer´s disease. Every patient is different and experiences the disease differently.
The causes of AD are mainly not known. Nevertheless, there are morphologic correlations for the symptoms. In MRI or CT scans of patients with AD a severe brain atrophy is prevelent, due to the progredient loose of neuronal networks.
Histolopathological examination also reveals the so called amyloid-plaques and tau-proteins which are also important for diagnostic purposes.
For a conclusive clarification of the causes, more research is needed.
There are not many risk factors identified yet.
AD is known to be more likely in people with first grade relatives with an AD diagnosis, which implies that it is a genetic disease. Also, a genetic variation of the apolipoprotein E 4 (ApoE4) is discussed to be a risk factor. From looking at affected people in younger ages (under 65 years), it can be said that AD has an especially large hereditary component.
The only statistically identified risk factor is age, since most of patients are older than 65.
The treatment of AD consists of many components, but none of them will cure the disease.
With dementia comes a decreased level of acetylcholine, which is an important transmitter for mental and physical functions of our body. Acetylcholinesterase-inhibitors inhibit the protein responsible dismantling this transmitter and cause higher levels of acetylcholine. Unfortunately, Acetylcholinesterase-inhibitors have several side effects such as bradycardia, disturbance of heart rhythm, vomiting, diarrhoea and gastroduodenal ulceration.
Also, higher levels of the transmitter glutamate were noticed, so another column is the therapy with NMDA-antagonists to reduce the effect with blocking their receptors.
Both are given to try to slow down the progression of the illness.
Many patients with AD develop depressive symptoms. When suffering from these, antidepressants may be another option for the patient.
Also, restlessness is a common symptom which can be treated with drugs.
Neuroleptica can be used mainly for reducing sleeping disorders, which impair many patients with AD.
All these options are only treating symptoms and are not able to cure the disease.