Light shines directly into areas of the brain damaged in Alzheimer’s can reverse the course of the disease, scientists believe.
Researchers are trying out a headset with LEDs that send pulses from gamma waves to the hippocampus, the region responsible for memory.
Daily treatment is said to stimulate mitochondria – the cell’s batteries, which eliminate toxic proteins that accumulate in patients’ brains.
A 12-week study into its effectiveness has just begun after patients have recovered their memory and reading and writing skills in three months.
With no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease, the headset offers a glimmer of hope for around 850,000 patients in Britain and nearly six million in the US.
Researchers are trying out a new headset with LEDs that emit pulses from gamma waves in the hippocampus, a brain region responsible for memory (pictured)
The device, called the Neuro RX Gamma headset, was developed by Canadian biotech company Vielight
Patients currently have to rely on drugs that reduce symptoms.
The new Neuro RX Gamma headset that is being tested has been developed by Canadian biotech company Vielight.
The treatment includes wearing the device, as well as a separate nose clip that guides lightly through the nostrils for 20 minutes a day.
The light is said to stimulate the mitochondria that give cells their energy in a process called photobiomodulation.
This then stimulates the brain to activate immune cells known as microglia, which fight the disease.
In Alzheimer’s patients, these cells can become inactive and plaques can be built up, stopping the normal function of the brain.
Amyloid plaque is one of the characteristics of the currently incurable disease, the most common form of dementia.
It is thought that a sticky accumulation of plaque leads to the gradual destruction of brain cells.
Neuro RX’s inventor Dr. Lew Lim told it The Telegraph: ‘Photo biomodulation introduces the therapeutic effect of light in our brain.
A 12-week study into its effectiveness has just begun after the initial results led patients to regain their memory and reading and writing skills in three months
The treatment includes wearing the headset, as well as a separate nose clip that directs light through the nostrils for 20 minutes a day
HOW WILL THE HEADSET TREAT ALZHEIMER’S?
Neuro RX Gamma headset sends 40 Hz gamma waves to the brain area responsible for memory, the hippocampus.
It does this through the skull and through the nostrils, using a separate nose clip.
The light is said to stimulate the mitochondria that give cells their energy.
This one stimulates the brain to activate immune cells known as microglia, which fight the disease.
In Alzheimer’s patients, these cells can become inactive – and plaques can accumulate, stopping the normal function of the brain.
Amyloid plaque is one of the characteristics of the currently incurable disease, which causes dementia.
It is thought that a sticky accumulation of plaque leads to the gradual destruction of brain cells – and dementia.
‘It stimulates the body to restore its natural balance or homeostasis. When we do that, we appeal to the body’s innate ability to heal.
“Based on early data, we are confident that we will see a certain degree of recovery from the symptoms, not just a delay in the reduction, even in moderate to severe cases.”
The new trial is led by the University of Toronto and includes 228 people at eight locations in the US and Canada.
Half of the volunteers receive light therapy six days a week for 20 minutes during a total of 12 weeks. The rest will receive a placebo.
A safety test last year involving five people with mild to moderately severe dementia saw all their conditions improve.
They reported improved cognitive function, better sleep, less angry outbursts, less anxiety and aberration – all common side effects of treatment. They also reported a better memory.
Brain scans also revealed visible improvements in connectivity between brain regions and improved blood flow, according to The Telegraph.
After the therapy was stopped, the patients began to regress again. Light therapy is already used to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern – and traumatic brain injury.
It is thought to cause serotonin release – the happy hormone, promotes better sleep, and stimulates parts of the brain that are closed after damage.