Doctors in Toronto, Canada have proved that the use of Deep Brain Stimulation on patients with early signs of Alzheimer's is safe and it may help in improving their memory.
Dr. Andres M. Lozano and his team at Toronto Western Hospital carried out the phase one safety trial of six Ontario patients that took place from 2005 to 2008. All patients left the hospital within 2 to 3 days of surgery, and continue to participate in regular follow-up cognitive assessments.
Lozano said that during these assessments half the patients continue to perform better than predicted - that is - their memory capacity has improved, or deteriorated less than expected.
"While the study was not looking for efficacy, the results suggest that of the six patients, three may have done better than if the Alzheimer's disease was allowed to run its course," Lozano said.
"We showed that not only is this a safe procedure, but that the evidence is there to warrant a bigger trial. Any amount of time that extends quality of life and quality years to someone with Alzheimer's may be a benefit," he added.
Lozano first discovered the potential for DBS to treat Alzheimer's disease while treating a patient for obesity using DBS back in 2003. While signaling areas of the brain, Lozano and his team triggered memories in the patient. In follow-up testing the patient's memory improved and Dr. Lozano set in motion the first ever DBS trial of patients with early signs of Alzheimer's disease.
"We've demonstrated this is safe, and that the evidence warrants more study. We're now planning a phase two, multi-centred trial - we're just waiting on the funding," Lozano said.