LED灯有一天可能治疗人类阿尔茨海默病

阿尔茨海默病是当今世界一个越来越令人担忧的疾病。仅在美国,就约有500万人受影响。预计这个数字在不久的将来还会继续增加。由于没有有效的治疗方法,阿尔茨海默氏症患者及其家人被迫采取昂贵的治疗,而且从长远来看只是暂时治疗。然而,麻省理工学院的研究人员可能已经发现了一种可能的治疗方式,即使用闪烁的LED灯照射病人头部。

阿尔茨海默氏病被认为是由β淀粉样蛋白斑积累引起的疾病,简而言之,这种淀粉蛋白防止神经元以规则速率发射电波。这些神经元,特别是海马大脑区域的神经元,对于大脑记忆功能至关重要的,这是阿尔茨海默攻击和破坏的区域。因此,MIT Picower学习和记忆研究所的神经科学研究人员的目标是减少这些β淀粉样蛋白斑块。

为此目的,实验室使用经遗传工程改造患上阿尔茨海默病的小鼠,使用40Hz光线人为地诱导伽马振荡,恢复记忆相关的脑波。该方法实际上涉及将线材粘在小鼠的脑内,不能用于人类,因此研究人员切换到LED灯阵列,以40Hz闪烁产生相同的效果。

结果显示,小鼠仅接触一小时,大脑海马中的β淀粉样蛋白减少40至50%,并且伽马振荡加剧。此外,小鼠神经胶质细胞,变得更加活跃,以清除β淀粉样蛋白斑块。但是,24小时后,小鼠的大脑恢复到其正常的阿尔茨海默病β淀粉样蛋白水平。研究人员试图每天照射1小时,持续一个星期,虽然效果似乎持续了,但仍然不清楚可以维持多长时间。更重要的是,治疗尚未对人类进行测试,因此不能确定我们的大脑是否会对这种刺激产生类似的反应。幸运的是,由于治疗是非侵入性的,它比传统的治疗方法更容易和更安全。

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https://www.engadget.com/2016/12/09/flickering-led-lights-alzheimers/

Flickering LED lights could treat Alzheimer's disease

We're still a ways off from finding out if it's a viable treatment, though.

Twinkling lights aren't just pretty -- if they're flickering at a specific frequency, they could also treat Alzheimer's disease. A group of researchers have tested the effectiveness of LED lights flashing at 40 hertz as a treatment for Alzheimer's on mice genetically engineered to develop the condition. They found that exposing mice in the early stages of Alzheimer's to the lights for an hour lowered the beta amyloid protein levels in their brains. Beta amyloid accumulates to form plaques that interfere with normal brain function. Further, when they used the same technique on mice already in the advanced stages of the disease for seven days, they found that the method "markedly reduced" the plaques in their brains.

The flickering lights work by stimulating gamma oscillation, which is believed to be impaired in people suffering from the illness. Gamma oscillation transforms immune cells called microglia, which become inflamed and secrete toxic chemicals in Alzheimer's patients, back to their old self. Since microglia are in charge of clearing out amyloids, turning them back into functioning immune cells fights off the formation of plaques.

Despite these findings, the team still has to find out whether the technique will work on actual Alzheimer's patients. They need to perform additional tests to see how long the method's effect can last, since using it on early stage mice only lowered the animals' amyloid levels for 24 hours. The scientists also need to check whether using the technique to clear out plaques that are already there leads to behavioral changes. In short, it'll take a long time to know whether it's a feasible treatment. But since the neurodegenerative illness still has no cure, keeping an eye out for the future findings is definitely worth it.


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