Until now it was believed Alzheimer’s disease could destroy the memories, but a new study reveals that it actually blocks them.
Scientists at Columbia University discovered that memories of mice with Alzheimer’s disease can pe recovered optogenetically ( with the use of light). This could be a very important discovery for future patients because it can easily switch our understanding level of the disease.
Comparing healthy mice with mice given a disease similar to human Alzheimer’s, parts of mice’s brains were engineered to glow yellow during memory storage and red during memory recall. Aassociating the two memories, the mice were exposed to the smell fo lemon followed by an electric shock.
A week later, they were given the lemon again. Here are the results:
The healthy mice’s red and yellow glows overlapped and they expressed fear, showing they were accessing the right memories, and the Alzheimer’s brains glowed in different area showing they were recalling from the wrong sections of the brain.
Christine A. Denny, team leader, used a fiber optic cable to create a blue laser which can bring light into the mice’s brain. However, this successfully reactivated the lemon and electric shock memory and caused the mice to freeze when they smell it.
“This could help 5 million Americans who are suffering from the disease.
It has the potential to lead to novel drug development to help with regaining memories.” – Ralph Martins at Edith Cowan University in Australia.
Humans loose more neurons than mice during the course of the disease and it would be very difficult to target specific memories. Our brains are far more complicated.
Further studies must be done because these findings are one of the most important on archieving the cure for Alzheimer’s disease.