A combination of radiation and gold nanoparticles can help in slowing down the progress of Alzheimer's disease, according to a research conducted by scientists from Spain and Chile. The healthy brain cells will not be affected by this. According to their study, to be published in the American Chemical Society's Nano Letters, the technique, a type of molecular surgery, has the potential to destroy beta-amyloid fibrils and plaque, hypothesized to contribute to the mental decline of Alzheimer's patients.
Using test tube studies, the scientists attached gold nanoparticles to a group of beta amyloid fibrils, incubated the resulting mixture for several days and then exposed it to weak microwave fields for several hours. The energy levels of the fields were six times smaller than that of conventional cell phones and unlikely to harm healthy cells. The fibrils subsequently dissolved and remained dissolved for at least one week after being irradiated, indicating that the treatment was not only effective at breaking up the fibrils, but also resulted in a lower tendency of the proteins to re-aggregate.
The same approach also holds promise for treating other neurodegenerative diseases that involve protein aggregation, including Parkinson's and Huntington's, said lead researcher Marcelo J. Kogan, adding, the approach is similar to that of another experimental technique that uses metallic nanoparticles to label and destroy cancer cells.