New research out of New York leaves experts hopeful of restoring lost memories in Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients after testing proved successful in mice.
The study was performed with the use of lights – or optogenically. Until this study, it was believed that these memories had been lost permanently, but the team suggest that it may just be the recall mechanisms that are damaged by the disease.
The study took two sets of mice, one group healthy and one group experiencing similar traits to alzheimer’s. The brains of the mice were engineered to glow certain colours on brain scans while trying to recall memories.
All of the mice were given a scent of lemon and an electric shock to symbolize the two were connected. A week later, the mice were given the scent of lemon again and the healthy mice’s brain scans showed they anticipated the electric shock. The brains of the diseased mice were unaware of the electric shock.
The team used fibre optic cables to shine a blue light into the mice’s diseased brains to reactivate the memory, and they did indeed become fearful of the shock once again.
More research will be required to see if the treatment would be the same in humans, as there are significant differences in the way the diseases run their course between mice and humans.
However, Ralph Martins at Edith Cowan University in Australia told New Scientist that “it has the potential to lead to novel drug development to help with regaining memories.”