Stem cell treatment for Alzheimer's
Alzheimer's disease also known in medical literature as Alzheimer disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia. There is no cure for the disease, which worsens as it progresses, and eventually leads to death.
More often, AD is diagnosed in people over 65 years of age, although the less-prevalent early-onset Alzheimer's can occur much earlier. In 2006, there were 26.6 million sufferers worldwide. Alzheimer's is predicted to affect 1 in 85 people globally by 2050.
Although Alzheimer's disease develops differently for every individual, there are many common symptoms. Early symptoms are often mistakenly thought to be 'age-related' concerns, or manifestations of stress. In the early stages, the most common symptom is difficulty in remembering recent events. When AD is suspected, the diagnosis is usually confirmed with tests that evaluate behavior and thinking abilities, often followed by a brain scan if available.
As the disease advances, symptoms can include confusion, irritability and aggression, mood swings, trouble with language, and long-term memory loss. As the sufferer declines they often withdraw from family and society. Gradually, bodily functions are lost, ultimately leading to death. Since the disease is different for each individual, predicting how it will affect the person is difficult. AD develops for an unknown and variable amount of time before becoming fully apparent, and it can progress undiagnosed for years. On average, the life expectancy following diagnosis is approximately seven years. Fewer than three percent of individuals live more than fourteen years after diagnosis.
Adult stem cell therapy may compensate the lost neuronal systems. Stem cells exhibit targeted migration towards the damaged regions of the brain, where they engraft, proliferate and mature into functional neurons. Neural precursor cells can be intravenously administered and yet migrate into brain damaged areas and induce functional recovery.
Transplanted stem cells or neural precursor cells (NPCs) survive, migrate, and differentiate into cholinergic neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes with amelioration of the learning/memory deficits. Besides replacement of lost or damaged cells, stem cells stimulate endogenous neural precursors, enhance structural neuroplasticity, and down regulate pro-inflammatory cytokines and neuronal apoptotic death. Stem cells could also be genetically modified to express growth factors into the brain. The adult brain of mammals preserves the capacity to generate new neurons from neural stem/progenitor cells.
Stem cell treatment has the ability to repair the damage caused by Alzheimer’s and restore cognitive function in patients affected with the brain disease.
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