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AbledConditions post banner shows a background graphics montage of slides from a brain CT scan slightly blurred behind a side profile view of an X-ray of a person's head and shoulders with the brain area highlighted with an orange glow. The headline reads: AbledConditions: Alzheimer's Disease: Ground-breaking treatment at UCLA improves failing memory.

Improvements Allowed Some Patients To Return To Work


A multi-discipline lifestyle intervention study at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) has produced some breakthrough results in slowing or reversing memory loss in patients with Alzheimer’s Disease.

While it’s a small study, the implications could be huge. The findings come from a joint effort between UCLA’s Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research and the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.

The team implemented a 36-point lifestyle overhaul program that included dietary changes, use of specific supplements and medications, optimal sleep and increased brain stimulation. The results were so positive nine out of 10 patients showed remarkable memory improvements, and six patients were able to either return to work or demonstration significant performance improvements in their jobs.

The author of the resulting paper on the study, Dale Bredesen, Augustus Rose Professor of Neurology, Director of the Easton Center at UCLA, and Professor at Buck Institute says that current medications for Alzheimer’s aren’t working. “The existing Alzheimer’s drugs affect a single target, but Alzheimer’s disease is more complex. Imagine having a roof with 36 holes in it, and your drug patched one hole very well – the drug may have worked, a single “hole” may have been fixed, but you still have 35 other leaks, and so the underlying process may not be affected much.”

“It is noteworthy that the major side-effects of this therapeutic system are improved health and an improved body mass index, a stark contrast to the side effects of many drugs.”

While he admits the findings are anecdotal and the study group small, Professor Bredesen is optimistic, saying, “the current anecdotal results require a larger trial, not only to confirm or refute the results reported here, but also to address key questions raised, such as the degree of improvement that can be achieved routinely, [and] how late in the course of cognitive decline reversal can be effected.”

That last one is an important point. The one patient who did not show any improvement had been diagnosed with late-stage Alzheimer’s Disease.

Professor Bredesen also wants to find out whether this multi-faceted approach can be effective in patients with early onset Familial Alzheimer’s Disease (eFAD), which can develop in people as young as 30,  and he and his team are curious to know how long the improvements that have been shown in this study can be sustained.

You can read the full study published in the online edition of Aging.

Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research is part of the UCLA Department of Neurology which encompasses more than 26 disease-related research programs. This includes all of the major categories of neurological diseases and methods, encompassing neurogenetics and neuroimaging as well as health services research. The 140 faculty members of the Department are distinguished scientists and clinicians who have been ranked #1 in NIH funding for 9 consecutive years beginning in 2002. The Department is dedicated to understanding the human nervous system and improving the lives of people with neurological diseases, focusing on three key areas: patient/clinical care, research, and education. For more information, see

The Buck Institute is the U.S.’s first independent research organization devoted to Geroscience – focused on the connection between normal aging and chronic disease. Based in Novato, CA, The Buck is dedicated to extending “Healthspan”, the healthy years of human life and does so utilizing a unique interdisciplinary approach involving laboratories studying the mechanisms of aging and those focused on specific diseases. Buck scientists strive to discover new ways of detecting, preventing and treating age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, cancer, cardiovascular disease, macular degeneration, osteoporosis, diabetes and stroke.  In their collaborative research, they are supported by the most recent developments in genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics and stem cell technologies. read more about this study at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.

One Patient’s Treatment Regimen

Professor Bredesen’s approach is personalized to the patient, based on extensive testing to determine what is affecting the plasticity signaling network of the brain.

As one example, in the case of the patient with the demanding job who was forgetting her way home, her therapeutic program consisted of some, but not all of the components involved with Bredesen’s therapeutic program, and included:

(1) Eliminating all simple carbohydrates, leading to a weight loss of 20 pounds;

(2) Eliminating gluten and processed food from her diet, with increased vegetables, fruits, and non-farmed fish;

(3) To reduce stress, she began yoga;

(4) As a second measure to reduce the stress of her job, she began to meditate for 20 minutes twice per day;

(5) She took melatonin each night;

(6) She increased her sleep from 4-5 hours per night to 7-8 hours per night;

(7) She took methylcobalamin each day;

(8) She took vitamin D3 each day;

(9) Fish oil each day;

(10) CoQ10 each day;

(11) She optimized her oral hygiene using an electric flosser and electric toothbrush;

(12) Following discussion with her primary care provider, she reinstated hormone replacement therapy that had been discontinued;

(13) She fasted for a minimum of 12 hours between dinner and breakfast, and for a minimum of three hours between dinner and bedtime;

(14) She exercised for a minimum of 30 minutes, 4-6 days per week.

The results for nine of the 10 patients reported in the paper suggest that memory loss may be reversed, and improvement sustained with this therapeutic program, said Bredesen. “This is the first successful demonstration,” he noted, but he cautioned that the results are anecdotal, and therefore a more extensive, controlled clinical trial is needed.

Experts Caution More Study Is Needed

“It’s way too early to draw any conclusions from this,” said Heather Snyder, director of medical and scientific operations for the Alzheimer’s Association in Chicago. “It raises a lot of questions that should be explored in larger studies.”

Dr. James Galvin, a professor of neurology at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, echoed that sentiment.

“I’m not knocking the concept,” Galvin said. The factors the program targets — including diet, physical activity and chronic body-wide inflammation — are scientifically valid, he said.

But, Galvin added, it’s hard to evaluate the specific therapies, particularly the supplements, based only on these case reports.

“There’s not enough here to understand why these things were chosen, or how the doses were chosen,” Galvin said.

The supplements included curcumin, vitamins B12 and D3, fish oilcoconut oil, resveratrol, coenzyme Q10 and ashwagandha — a herb used in traditional Indian medicine.

(Source: HealthDay)

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